MORE than 1,500 people have backed a campaign to save a South Tyneside centre described as a “safe haven” for nearly 200 pensioners.
There is anger about a council plan to close Queens Road Day Centre in Saxon Way, Jarrow, and move elderly users elsewhere.
The cost-cutting measure follows other proposals to close three day centres in South Shields and Boldon Colliery.
It is feared almost 200 pensioners, who rely on the Jarrow centre for social contact, will be left isolated if the building is forced to close.
Member Dot Huskisson, 72, who previously worked at the centre, said: “There has been a tremendous response to the petition so far. What people forget is that Queens Road is a safe haven for pensioners. If anyone takes ill, we can get help straight away.
“But what happens if those same elderly people are sitting at home, looking at the four walls, and take ill? We have collected more than 1,500 signatures from people in shops, bingo halls and all over.
“I should think that number will rise to 3,000 in the next few weeks.”
Ex-Labour councillors Maisie Stewart and Joyce Phipps, who both use the centre, have backed the campaign and there is support from Independent councillors Steve Harrison and Linda Hemmer.
Battling OAPs say Jarrow Community Centre, mooted as an alternative location, is “totally unsuitable” in terms of disabled access and other issues.
Mrs Huskisson added: “Closing Queens Road will harm a lot of elderly people.”
This is the second time Queens Road Day Centre has faced closure.
Eight years ago, the future of the centre was put in doubt after a review of social care by South Tyneside Council.
But the threat went away after a high-profile campaign that included a 1,300-name petition.
About 180 pensioners use Queens Road every week for everything from arts and crafts to keep-fit sessions and dancing.
South Tyneside Council has held discussions about moving the services.
A council spokesman said: “There is no intention to close the social centre; we are exploring ways to deliver it more efficiently, which may mean relocating it.”