THE closure of a community mental health service in Barry town centre has been slammed by a councillor.

Vale of Glamorgan and Barry town councillor Ian Johnson said the loss of the Amy Evans Centre represented further suffering for Holton Road.

The service has left its town centre base for Barry Hospital.

Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which provided the service at the Amy Evans Centre said the change would mean an improvement in services.

But Mr Johnson said the town centre was suffering "death by a thousand cuts".

“Holton Road is already suffering from the loss of shops such as New Look and Dorothy Perkins," he said.

“Every time a shop or service closes, the town centre loses out once again.

“The Amy Evans Centre has suffered from underinvestment for many years, and this is the outcome.

“I worry that centralising the Vale’s three community mental health centres in one location means that they are further from the communities they should be serving.”

Mental health campaigner Rachel Degaetano, whose son Chae committed suicide and who is now fundraising to establish mental health and suicide support centre in Barry, has said she thinks the move to Barry Hospital is a positive one though.

She added: “The Amy Evans building was old and dilapidated and the new building at Barry Hospital looks brighter and all together a more comfortable place to visit.

“The move hasn't affected me or my intentions to open a mental health awareness and suicide support centre.

“We are and always have been separate from the Amy Evans, but I do hope that they will offer us support in the future when we are up and running.”

A Cardiff and Vale UHB spokeswoman said the board had been working towards improving community mental health services within the Vale of Glamorgan to complement the existing services provided within GP practices and the locality as a whole.

She said: “The UHB has held a series of engagement events over a six month period with staff, service users, carers, third sector partners, GP clusters and the local authority which was overseen by the Community Health Council to discuss ways to improve the services offered to patients.

“It has been agreed to combine the three existing Community Mental Health Teams and create a new Vale Locality Mental Health Team.

“This will provide an opportunity to redesign services to meet our patient’s needs and the growing demand for mental health services and will also mean improved facilities for providing care and treatment to our patients.

“We would like to assure our service users and the local community that this will not affect the service they receive and we are committed to providing a community mental health service that is appropriate for our population.”

She also said the new service is being rolled out throughout September, and that service users would be kept informed of the process and the changes.