Cash problems force Aylesbury community project to close

Fern Britton with director Neil Hemming (right) and trainee Danny at the opening
Fern Britton with director Neil Hemming (right) and trainee Danny at the opening

An Aylesbury community project supporting adults with learning disabilities has had to close because of a lack of money.

The Aylesbury Project, which was opened in June by Fern Britton, took unwanted recyclable materials and then disabled adult trainees turned them into goods to be sold off.

However, although store membership and sales have been at a good level, the number of trainees attending fell well short of expectations, with nine signing up when around 40 were needed.

Having trainees gave the project funding because Bucks County Council would provide cash for every person it referred to the scheme.

The people behind the project say this referral process has taken too long, although denied this was the only reason for the closure.

Aylesbury Project director Neil Hemming said: “The fact that it has taken so long means we can’t plan properly.

“But even if I could have waved a magic wand and the council did everything I wanted then the difference in cash flow to the business would have been about £15,000.

“The money we need to make sure we can carry on is close to double that.”

Mr Hemming said it was a great shame the project is closing, particularly given the enthusiasm of people that have been working there.

He said: “Everyone wants it to carry on.

“Staff have said they would work for nothing for a few months, but we just can’t do that.”

A message on the project’s website added: “In our view it is not viable for any new business to set up in the learning disabilities day opportunities arena whilst the current arrangements prevail, and certainly not one that rents premises on commercial terms.

“After many obstacles and some personal cost to the directors to try and keep things going, we have now reached the end of the road.”

A county council spokesman said they were ‘sorry to hear that the project is not viable and is closing’.

The spokesman said: “Today’s social care market now enables people to choose their services and if someone needs a day service they have an independent support broker to help them plan and arrange what they want to do.

“It is their choice as to who provides their care and when.

“We will do everything we can to support the service users affected.”