CONCERN has been raised that The Hollies Day Centre in Musselburgh might be forced to relocate or even cease to exist in its present form.

Roger Knox, vice-chairman of The Hollies board, said that the “inclination” of East Lothian Council’s Joint Integration Board seemed to be that a new day centre facility could not be accommodated within the current High Street building.

He said: “It may seem absurd, and to many, outrageous, that The Hollies may be forced to relocate or even cease to exist in its present form.

“The integration board is charged with bringing together the relevant strands of social work and health to provide for the longer-term forecast of needs for the elderly population of the county.

“The board recognises correctly that, in Musselburgh, The Hollies caters appropriately for the mild end of the social needs spectrum. Understandably, it also regards The Hollies as a useful foundation for a facility for those who suffer from more acute conditions or requiring closer care.

“However, the board’s inclination seems to be that such a new facility could not be accommodated within the current location. It has no clear idea where an alternative location might be and it is doubtful whether this would even be in the town centre.

“For many people in Musselburgh and indeed beyond, The Hollies is an institution which has been a life-saver, an island in the stress of life or simply a place to meet friends or indeed, all three.

“One of the many reasons for The Hollies’ success is its location in the heart of Musselburgh.”

Mr Knox added: “Finance is an obvious issue. A new facility would require considerable capital costs – annual running costs would have to be borne by the local authority.

“While currently The Hollies respite annexe, lunch club, and the bus used to transport those who use them are partially supported by the local authority, all of the remaining facilities are self-financing or are enabled by fundraising.

“Perhaps the most significant aspect of The Hollies at present is the immense amount of time put in by the large number of volunteers.

“The Hollies today is a fitting tribute to the many women who have dedicated themselves to its foundation and continuing success.

“While a care home for the elderly and facilities for the more severely impaired members of the population are sorely needed, there will always be a place for the services provided by The Hollies.”

An East Lothian Health and Social Care Partnership spokesperson said: “The East Lothian Integration Joint Board (ELIJB) recently agreed recommendations for a Day Centre Improvement Plan, subject to budgetary approval being given at the ELIJB meeting on March 30.

“Consequently, discussions about the implementation of the strategy are still at a very early stage.

“We are fully committed to working with The Hollies on how to develop their service and helping them to look at the physical constraints their building currently poses.

“Musselburgh has a rapidly growing population and relatively few day care places compared with elsewhere in the county. Our vision is to work with The Hollies and the wider community in Musselburgh to increase day centre provision in the town, including for people with more complex needs.

“It is very early days, though, and we will be engaging with stakeholders and keeping people up-to-date throughout.”