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Demonstration against closure of day centre in Llandeilo
Users of Noddfa Teilo Day Club in Llandeilo, Carmarthenshire, held an emotional protest outside the centre which has been a base and social network for many over the years.
The pensioners and unemployed people who use the facility sang "We'll meet again" along with supporters who had been fighting the closure which took place on Friday 27 May after Carmarthenshire County Council - controlled by 'independents' and New Labour - said they can't afford to keep it and four other day centres open.
War veterans and users in their 90s took their place in the protest alongside users who had chained themselves to the railings outside the centre and trade unionists and members of political parties who had opposed the cuts.
One protester, Dennis Bice, aged 89, sat outside proudly displaying his veteran's medal for his bravery and work during the Second World War. Speakers at the protest, which included local Plaid Cymru MP Jonathan Edwards and Carmarthenshire Unison branch secretary Mark Evans, pointed out how the council had pots of cash in reserves and had just secured more than a million pounds in extra funding which could have kept all five day centres open.
For the 35 users of the centre it was a bitter day to experience the closure while at the same time it was reported that council officials were likely to be receiving bonuses of £20,000 or more.
The day club users had not taken the threatened closure lying down, however, and Rhian Barr, aged 75, had tirelessly organised a petition against the closure which has attracted nearly 2,000 signatures.
This petition will be presented to the council on 8 June when the club users and supporters will lobby the county council. Rhian and Unison secretary Mark Evans pledged that this campaign was far from over and that the campaign against the cuts in Carmarthenshire would continue to fight all cuts and would be working to get any cuts that have been implemented so far reversed.
Rhian Barr said: "We're going to fight this to the end. Why should these people lose their facility, which is a lifeline for many of us? The councillors who voted for this haven't been anywhere near the place.
"It's shameful. People feel very strongly about this and we have really appreciated the support we have had from union members and those in political parties."
Mark Evans said: "These closures are being done without any consultation with the users and the council is cutting our members' jobs without any consultation.
"On the same day as they announced the closure of Noddfa Teilo Day Club they announced redundancies of our members. We feel it's all part of the same fight.
"The council don't need to make these cuts. They have £42 million in reserves and have boasted that they have underspent by £1 million, yet to save £400,000 they are closing these day clubs.
"I am confident that this cut and other cuts can be stopped if we unite all those affected. The fight against the cuts continues."
The protesters' emotional farewell to their centre was featured on the BBC Wales news.
This version of this article was first posted on the Socialist Party website on 29 May 2011 and may vary slightly from the version subsequently printed in The Socialist.