Dozens of GPs write to Mayor of Tower Hamlets over community centre cuts

More than 60 GPs have signed an open letter to the Mayor of Tower Hamlets urging him to reconsider his decision to slash funding for a community centre which is a “lifeline” for the elderly.

Those responsible for running the Appian Court Centre in Parnell Road, Bow, say the planned cuts - of almost 70 per cent - could force it to close. Debbie Walker, chief executive of Age UK in east London, told the Advertiser last month that at the very least the centre would be forced to reduce the services it provides if the cuts go ahead.

The centre currently offers meals, day trips and classes for elderly people, attracting up to 60 visitors on a typical day.

The letter’s lead signatory, Dr George Farrelly of the Tredegar Practice, Bow, said he was prompted to act after a recent visit to the centre with a group of medical students.

“The students chatted with the centre users who had arrived for the lunch club”, he wrote.

“They told the students that the lunch club and the centre were under threat of closure due to a withdrawal of funding. One man said to us: ‘This centre is my lifeline. Please do something.’”

“I am writing to pass on this man’s plea, and he speaks for the other users of Appian Court.

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“I understand that you and your colleagues in government have an enormously difficult time deciding how best to allocate limited resources. But it is vital that the most vulnerable in our communities are not forgotten.

“Please make it possible for the Appian Court Centre to stay open and continue its very important work.

With a decision on the final allocation of funding due to be announced at last night’s cabinet meeting, the letter piles pressure on Mayor Lutfur Rahman to reconsider the funding allocated to the organisation under the Mainstream Grant system.

A council spokeswoman said more than 430 organisations applied for the funding, and that the review process was ongoing.

“The wellbeing of our older and vulnerable residents is a priority for the council.

“We are committed to providing activities for older people in order to tackle social isolation and loneliness such as those delivered through the LinkAge plus programme and the range of lunch clubs funded by the council.”