More than 100 people attended a public meeting in Tenby yesterday (Thursday) evening to spell out a clear message to Pembrokeshire County Council over their feelings on the future of the Avenue Centre.

Fears for the closure of the much-loved centre for adults with learning disabilities have been voiced since the authority decided to go out to consultation on the facility.

More than 2,500 people have now signed petitions opposing the centre's closure, with over 1,300 signatures on the online petition at and over 1,200 on paper petitions in the area.

Pembrokeshire County Council chairman, Councillor Wynne Evans, was amongst those attending the Tenby meeting and was presented with the paper petition to take to County Hall.

The meeting at the De Valence Pavilion was arranged by Tenby Town Council in response to a request for help for the campaign from Kate Schofield, whose twin sister, Maggie, had been attending the centre since she was a teenager.

Said town clerk Andrew Davies afterwards: “It was a very well-attended meeting and it gave the town council a very clear steer that the town wants to retain not only the provision of the Avenue Centre’s services but the centre itself.

“The consensus was that everyone should continue to do all they can to ensure that Pembrokeshrie County Council accedes to this.”

A number of members of Pembrokeshire County Council, together with Mid and West Wales Assembly Members William Powell and Simon Thomas and representatives of local AM Angela Burns and MP Simon Hart were amongst those attending.

Pledging his support, Mr Thomas commented: "It was tremendous to see the community of Tenby come together in support of the Avenue Centre. The vulnerable people that the Avenue Centre supports, together with their parents, family, carers and the excellent staff there are demonstrably part of the community of Tenby. This is why the whole town seems united in opposing this closure.

“Whilst Pembrokeshire County Council seem to think it is appropriate to treat the clients at the Avenue as a small and isolated group, the people of Tenby support them and welcome them as a vital part of our community.

“From the beginning, the county council’s approach to the future of the Avenue has been flawed. There was no meaningful consultation with the users and their families; the cabinet paper that proposed closure was based on flimsy evidence and and the consultation that is currently being held is weak and inadequate in the advocacy it provides to the clients themselves to affect the outcome.

“It is incumbent upon Pembrokeshire County Council to produce any viable alternative plan before it would be worthy of any consideration. At present the county council's handling of this matter has not met,in my view,the ambition and requirements of the Social Services and Wellbeing Act Wales and is exposing the most vulnerable people in our community to uncertainty and fear."