23 February update: Decision to create a community Hub at the Thames Ditton Centre has been ‘called-in’.
The February Elmbridge Cabinet decision to create a vibrant, sustainable community Hub at the Thames Ditton Centre has been ‘called-in’. A “call in” is a key element of the scrutiny function of Local Government and it relates to the right of Councillors to “call in” for examination an executive decision that has been made but not yet implemented. The decision will be brought for scrutiny in the coming weeks - date to be confirmed.
The Committee has three options available for decision, to:
- Ask the Elmbridge Cabinet to reconsider – in which case the decision is referred back, setting out in writing the nature of the concerns. Cabinet may then amend the decision or not, before adopting a final decision.
- Refer to full Council. Council may then discuss whether they want to request Cabinet to reconsider its decision. Cabinet may then amend the decision or not, before adopting a final decision.
- Decide that no further action is to be taken, in which case Cabinet’s decision can be implemented without further consideration or delay.
We will update you when a date has been set for meeting.
This call-in decision does not impact the relocation of Dementia Services to the Claygate Centre.
Further information on the procedure can be found in Elmbridge Borough Council’s Constitution.
31 January update: A vibrant, inclusive and sustainable community hub in Thames Ditton
Our overarching aim is to support our residents, especially our more vulnerable residents. To enable this, we have developed the ‘Elmbridge Connects strategy’. This is a positive vision for community services which will strengthen the network of support we are able to provide through a collaboration of council, charity and public sector networks, all with the common goal to help the Elmbridge community. Our strategy will connect people and provide support across the generations. It also sets out that we will engage with the community to enable the delivery of the community services they need.
On 7 February, Elmbridge Cabinet agreed to lease the Thames Ditton Community Centre to Vital Village, a community interest company founded by a local resident.
At the heart of the community
As a Community Interest Company the goal of Vital Village is to create a vibrant, inclusive and sustainable community hub that serves as the heart of the local community. It wants to adopt a holistic approach to community health and wellbeing, encompassing not only physical but mental health and understanding that personal wellbeing goes hand in hand with a healthy and sustainable planet.
To achieve its vision, Vital Village will coordinate a varied programme of activities and events that will be primarily based on community needs (to be established through community engagement), and generally focused on heath, wellbeing, environmental sustainability. The programme might include initiatives such as fitness and exercise programmes, recycling programmes and community gatherings.
To explore the potential for what could be achieved in Thames Ditton we engaged with the Health Creation Alliance, the leading national cross-sector movement addressing health inequalities. The team at Health Creation Alliance facilitated a series of workshops with representatives from the voluntary and community sector, local partners, community organisations and residents.
During the course of this work, we were approached by a local resident wanting to set up a community interest company to take over the management of the Thames Ditton centre and run a community wellbeing and sustainability hub.
To gauge community sentiment, a third workshop was convened in early December 2023 to explore the value and benefit of this offer. It reflected on the aspirations to move from a good to a great community centre and provided a forum to explore community questions and concerns.
Overall, the premise of the Community Interest Company - Vital Village - was supported and recognised as having the potential to increase both the number of activities on offer to the community and usage of the building.
Of course, there were questions, would existing hirers be able to remain? How would Vital Village be supported to succeed? What about Dementia Services based at them Thames Ditton Centre?
Hirers were reassured of their value and that there would always be a place for them at the Thames Ditton Centre.
Petition against changes to the Thames Ditton Centre
There is a strong feeling among some in the Thames Ditton community that we should continue the management and running of the Thames Ditton Centre, in order to secure future services for the wellbeing of the community.
As a council our focus is on how we can best work together to secure the outcomes implicit in our Elmbridge Connects project. We have a central role to play as a convenor, connector and enabler. The council will continue to own the building and have oversight of how the community is served.
We believe this collaboration with Vital Village will be better for residents. The council will retain ownership of the building and will work in partnership with Vital Village. The collaboration will increase the number of activities and variety of support available to residents. This will secure the future of the Thames Ditton Centre. If approved by Cabinet, we will invest up to £130,000 to support the success of this new community hub established by Vital Village at the Thames Ditton Centre, which will in turn benefit so many in the local community.
Supporting Vital Village to succeed
In addition to the financial support, Vital Village will be monitored by a board of directors who will be appointed on their ability to provide guidance, expertise, strategic advice and oversight to Vital Village’s management. The Board will include at least one local ward Councillor.
Establishing measurable performance indicators will also be important in supporting success, such as a community engagement index, programmes’ participation rates, facility usage, user satisfaction scores plus financial sustainability. We will use these to ensure Vital Village delivers the increased services.
Continuity of care for Dementia Services based at the Thames Ditton Centre
Providing dementia services is a key priority for us. We aim to provide best in class dementia services; therefore, our clients, carers and family members can be re-assured that the Vital Village offering will not adversely impact this important service, we will ensure continuity of care at all times.
We are currently considering appropriate accommodation for Dementia Services which is at least as good as the facilities provided at Thames Ditton. We fully recognise the importance of ensuring that if Dementia Services does move to a new location, it will be a fit for purpose environment which continues to benefit our clients and carers.
A positive vision for community services
We want to reiterate that we have a positive vision – expressed in our Elmbridge Connects strategy - which will strengthen the support provided to the community. Working with our partners and the community, we are ensuring we have the most appropriate support in place to meet the needs of the community now and the future.
Cllr Gill Coates,
Portfolio Holder for Community Care
25 January: Dementia Services
We have written to our Dementia Services clients and carers to update them on their service and to reinforce the continuity of care they will receive. The text is below:
Next week, 30 January, you will see some council communications about Vital Village and its involvement in the Thames Ditton Centre for the Community. This is based on a report being taken to Elmbridge Cabinet on 7 February.
We will of course send you this communications when it is available, but importantly we want to reassure you that the Dementia Services we offer will not be lessened by the Vital Village proposals for the Thames Ditton Centre. We will continue to provide the best care for those living with dementia, and respite for carers and family members.
We are currently considering appropriate accommodation for Dementia Services which is at least as good as the facilities provided Thames Ditton. We fully recognise the importance of ensuring that if Dementia Services does move to a new location, it will be a fit for purpose environment which continues to benefit our clients and carers. We hope to provide a further update very soon.
We are grateful for your support and if you have any queries, please contact us through email@example.com
Update 20 December 2023
Following the third facilitated session on the future of the Thames Ditton Centre, we are working through the feedback and actions and assessing the options we have to ensure the Centre supports the local community. No decision has been made. We expect that to happen over the next few months.
In the meantime, one of the options, Vital Village, is hiring the Thames Ditton Centre and inviting residents to come along and hear more about what they do. This is not a council event and is not related to the final decision on the Centre. It is an opportunity for local residents to find out more about Vital Village.
Update 29 November 2023
Throughout the discussions around the future use of Thames Ditton Centre for the Community, we have collaborated with local community partners and always sought to be open and transparent about our aims and actions.
We said that no decisions have been made. We have confirmed that the existing groups eg Men in Sheds and Boomerang Bags, are valued within the community and will be accommodated within any future proposals.
To date we have held two facilitated workshops to explore what a ‘great’ community centre looks like. A third facilitated session will now be held in December. This will reconvene the partners and community stakeholders from the previous two sessions for a further discussion about the potential future use of the Centre. The East Elmbridge Primary Care Network and the potential community-led opportunity for the Centre will also both be invited to attend.
We will report back on the next steps from that meeting in the New Year.
We want to restate that we are open to listening to all views and that while no decision has been made, the intent from all involved is to serve the community in the best way possible, to ensure a sustainable, thriving centre for the future.
Update 13 November 2023
We continue to work on the future use of the Thames Ditton Centre for the Community. Our discussions with the East Elmbridge Primary Care Network (covering Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, Esher and Claygate, Hinchley Wood, East and West Molesey) are ongoing and we have been approached about a complementary, potential community-led opportunity for the Centre, one that would also be aligned with our aim to support those most in need in Thames Ditton and the surrounding area.
No decisions have been made. When further work and due diligence has been undertaken, we will update you further and host a presentation at the Centre.
Update 27 September 2023
In June we said we would update you in the weeks ahead on the future use of the Thames Ditton Centre for the Community. Our apologies for the delayed response.
We reiterate that no decision has been made and that our aim remains to support those most in need in Thames Ditton and the surrounding area.
We are continuing our discussions with the East Elmbridge Primary Care Network (covering Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, Esher and Claygate, Hinchley Wood, East and West Molesey), albeit those discussions have been delayed slightly over the summer period. We will update you further when we are approaching a meaningful solution. Thank you for your patience.
In addition, while the discussions are underway, we regret that it is not possible to enter into agreements for regular, repeating, long-term hires although short-term and one-off hires may still be possible. Please see Centres for hire for more information.
14 June 2023
We want to be clear about our thinking around the Thames Ditton Centre for the Community.
Residents may be aware that we have been engaging with the local community in Thames Ditton to explore how we can ensure the Centre for the Community at Mercer Close has a sustainable model for the future, while ensuring existing Centre users continue to benefit from the Centre. We have consulted with community groups, charities, voluntary care, faith sector and health partners, to identify how best we ensure the Thames Ditton Centre can meet the needs of many more people in the community.
Currently, those consultations and discussions are leading us towards a number of options, including supporting community health and wellbeing with the East Elmbridge Primary Care Network (covering Thames Ditton, Long Ditton, Esher and Claygate, Hinchley Wood, East and West Molesey), recognising that the best way to deal with many health issues is to prevent them occurring in the first place.
No decisions have yet been made – we are still at the early stages - but ultimately, we are determined to support those most in need in Thames Ditton and the surrounding area.
We will provide a further update in the coming weeks.