Waverley’s older people’s centres facing an uncertain future?

Has Waverley’s Thriving Communities Commissioning Fund hung a question mark over the future of Farnham’s Brightwells and Cranleigh’s Rowleys Centre?

The former Brightwells Gostrey Centre in Farnham and Rowleys in Cranleigh. 




What does the future hold for them?

A change in the method taxpayers’ £735,000 grant pot is distributed in future has cast a long shadow over the future operation of both day centres.

Age UK Surrey has taken over the Clockhouse in Milford. We know not whether Waverley is funding that organisation as the Portfolio Holder for the Thriving Communities Fund has been rather coy in publishing this information. If AUK Surrey is funding it-  how and why?

The Waverley Web had gleaned much of the facts from the worried users of the older people’s centres, who admit they too are being kept in the dark by their Trustees! Though rumours are running rife! As you will see in the press release in the link below, Rowleys Trustees, who recently warned staff to prepare for redundancy, have now called on the public to help keep its show on the road!

The upshot is that both Brightwells – which was kicked out of their East Street HQ to take up residence in the new multi-use and multi-million pound refurbished Memorial Hall, and Rowleys in Cranleigh may not survive.

The demise of Brightwells will probably be relished by the management team there, as it is now a multi-use facility. Waverley’s former Tory administration well and truly stuffed that organisation.   It currently only “rents” a large room in the new Memorial Hall after being kicked out of its previous purpose-built home to make way for the Farnham East Street development. No surprise there, then? We seem to remember predicting there would be trouble ahead. Anything that Cllr Jenny Else (Con) Elstead has her mucky paws in usually ends in misery for older people in the borough.

Both organisations have been under the cosh for years. Throughout its term, Waverley’s Tory councillors worked tirelessly to rid themselves of older people’s services. The Tory  ‘Grab the Rowleys 99- year lease campaign’ goes back a decade, according to local press reports.

First down the swanny river went Age UK Waverley – along with all its service Advice and Information, gardening and handyman’s schemes.

Brightwells and Rowleys are told that following a cut in their grants to just £40,000 p.a., They cannot apply for further funding until 2025. By which time they will no doubt have gone walking-sticks up?

Waverley manoeuvred Rowleys, with the help of Cranleigh Tory Cllr Patricia Ellis,  into giving up its 80-year lease at a peppercorn rent in 2018, swapping it for a 25-year lease with 5-yearly rent reviews and a £6,000 rent. If the business is no longer viable, we presume the building part-funded by the people of Cranleigh will go back into Waverley’s ownership?

Whoops, there goes yet another publicly funded building lost?

Haslewey, in Haslemere and Farncombe day centres, appear to be getting total funding along with a three-year Service Level Agreement. Perhaps they managed to get their Annual Accounts up-to-scratch. The WW has been unable to find even a sniff of Rowleys Accounts – so is its Trustee Board up to the job, dare we ask? And, are the town’s old people continuing to support  the once-popularorganisations – or have times changed and they are joining golf clubs instead?

The ‘Thriving Communities Commissioning Fund’ is now aimed at a wider audience. Strategic issues are identified in the Waverley Corporate Strategy. According to Waverley, the decision on which organisation would benefit was made by an experienced multi-agency panel that included Surrey County Council, a member of the Waverley Executive Cllr Kika Mirylees and a member of the Principal Opposition Party Cllr Jenny Else. The fund was, understandably, considerably oversubscribed and now benefits a more diverse community sector. Including young people.

Presumably, someone will eventually publish a list of the beneficiaries and details of the grants they will receive.

Here’s a communication to the residents of Cranleigh we have received from the Trustees of Rowley’s.


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