Not according to a Waverley Executive councillor who claims the centre has received £70,000 in grants.
We revealed recently that a question mark is hanging over the future of the older people’s community centre.
In part due to reduced funding and this recent mention in Council paperwork.
‘Rowleys Roof £85k – To be approved in principle – to be reviewed as part of a wider development project for the site.’
What is Waverley’s cunning plan for the Rowleys Centre in Cranleigh?
So what exactly does your Waverley have up its sleeve for the cash-strapped struggling centre?
The spectre of rumoured redevelopment cropped up at a recent annual meeting. However, it was promptly refuted by Waverley Executive Cllr Liz Townsend, who strenuously denied any council intention to redevelop the site, saying:
“There are no plans for the redevelopment of this site. Any future decisions for Rowleys are up to the Board of Trustees to make – and not Waverley Council.”
Members said they had seen minutes of Waverley’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee of Services meeting where the specific mention was made. of ‘redevelopment.’ Some believe the Trustees and Waverley are holding out on them by secretly masterminding a deal for their treasured centre.
“Rowleys Roof £85K – to be approved in principle – to be reviewed as part of a wider development project for the site.”
Councillor Townsend said: The roof repairs, to be undertaken by Waverley, are part of its responsibilities under the terms of the lease and would actually cost £100K. The complete sentence contained in the O & S minutes was a mistake.
“No one knows who wrote it or how it got there.”
Waverley Borough Council owns the Rowleys building and the land on which it stands. Rowley’s 90-year lease was re-negotiated five years ago and included a Break Notice, allowing either Waverley or Rowleys to terminate “on the fifth anniversary of the date of the lease.” That anniversary in March 2023 coincides with the proposed withdrawal of Waverley funding.
However, CllrTownsend gave assurances that the council had no intention of terminating Rowley’s lease and would, in fact, continue to support Rowleys wherever possible.
But life for older people is not rosy. Members complained about the quality and quantity of food from the centre’s kitchens. A problem Chairman Trustee Mrs Theobald said it was being addressed and had not been helped by a major equipment failure.
Members also complained that the price of a Hoppa bus ticket of £6 and lunch at Rowleys combined set them back £19 a day which was “unaffordable.”
Councillor Townsend understood that people could not use their bus passes on the Hoppa and that the regular bus services were no longer providing a full timetable. She was doing her best to address this issue with Surrey County Council.
Controversy has surrounded the centre since Waverley’s announcement a year ago that there would be no annual grant after March 2023.
The centre in Victoria Road has provided a community facility, primarily for older people, since the 1970s. It offers a café/restaurant, a range of classes and activities, including Bingo and chiropody, a diabetic clinic, dementia clubs, hairdressers, day trips, and weekend breaks.
In the past, the service, along with other day centres in Waverley, has been supported by the council with an annual grant. The council announced last year that Rowley’s grant would cease in March 2023. Without financial support, there is concern that Rowleys will no longer be able to operate.
The Boards thanks went to,
- Trustee Anne Warzee had obtained new double-glazed kitchen windows from ~P & P Glass.
- For their ongoing support, Cranleigh Lions and Rotary Clubs, M & S, Cook, and the Cranleigh Sports and Social Club.
- To the Rowleys volunteers. “We would not be here without our volunteers.”
- Thanks to Rhona Gregson, who had resigned as Trustee.
- General despondency and demotivation had followed Covid, but everyone had now been spurred into action to ensure that Rowleys could continue. There was now a new website and branding, and a café style restaurant had been launched to try and encourage more people to use the centre.