JEERS and cries of "shame" filled the air at a meeting where it was decided a day care centre for the elderly is to close.

More than 50 residents attended the meeting to hear the fate of Belle Grove day centre in Mickleham Road, Orpington, chaired by Councillor Chris Philips on March 7.

Cllr Philips, who is the portfolio holder for social care, health and housing, received petitions containing 550 signatures opposing the closure.

The decision comes after a month of consultations with day centre users, families and carers and is set to save Bromley Council £50,000 a year.

But Cllr Philips faced vehement opposition to the decision and the promise the Saxon Centre, in Chislehurst and the Elmstead, in Orpington, will adequately accommodate the majority of the 47 users.

At one point, Cllr Philips was drowned out by Sue Sulis, a member of the Bromley Community Care Protection Group, who shouted: "You are a disgrace. What you are doing to the elderly people in this borough, you are shameless."

Cllr Philips agreed the Belle Grove day centre would close, subject to alternative day care services being made to current users.

He added the closure would not proceed until these were in place.

Peter Pitham, whose 81-year-old mother Joyce has been using the centre for 26 years, says he is "extremely disappointed" by the decision.

He said: "My mother says all she has to live for is her family and friends. This is taking away half of that. The council has a disgraceful attitude to the elderly."

Meanwhile, recommendations to introduce a maximum £15 weekly means-tested charge for residents receiving day-care services were turned down.

Cllr Philips initially greeted the report as "very thorough" but by the end of the meeting admitted he felt "uneasy" about its contents.

Suggestions the consultations had not been properly handled were made, coupled with confusion over charges and allegations some users had received questionnaires partly filled in.

Councillor Philips said: "It is becoming clear we have not managed to explain the proposal sufficiently.

"It would not be right to introduce charges for day care at this stage."

At the close of the meeting, Labour councillor John Holbrook threatened to seek further scrutiny of the decision.