Councillors have spoken of their fears that Charter House, a dementia inpatient unit for older people in Trowbridge, will not re-open.

Councillor Jeff Osborn told a meeting of Wiltshire Council’s Health Select Committee this morning (Thursday) in Chippenham that he and fellow councillor Graham Payne found out about the temporary closure of the inpatient beds by accident.

Cllr Osborn said: “We heard about it by chance, someone came up to me and Graham in a Trowbridge pub and told us Charter House had closed.”

The Health Select Committee was given a written report by Iain Tulley, chief executive of Avon and Wiltshire Mental Health Partnership (AWP) which runs Charter House, which said the building was in a bad state of repair and there were difficulties in recruiting staff.

Mr Tulley also said there was a drug problem nearby which could impact on visitors and staff.

Cllr Osborn told the committee that drug dealing goes on in urban areas but it was nothing like the situation in Bristol.

Cllr Osborn added: “The report says the building is about 20 years old and not fit for purpose. It hasn’t been maintained properly and would need a lot of money spent on it and I can’t see it re-opening for inpatients.”

Charter House is still being used for outpatient appointments and a base for staff. Inpatients will now go to Salisbury, Bath or Swindon.

In his report Mr Tulley said: “We are happy to discuss bringing the inpatient unit back into use but only if we can provide consistent high standards of care.”

Committee chairman Councillor Peter Hutton expressed his disappointment that AWP had not informed the committee of the temporary closure.

The committee was told that AWP was in discussions with Wiltshire Council, NHS Wiltshire and Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group to review services for older people.

The future of Charter House will be discussed this evening's meeting of Trowbridge Area Board being held at County Hall at 7pm.