A LUNCH club for pensioners is facing the axe as part of a re-shuffle of council services for the elderly.

Outraged diners at the Thicketford Centre’s luncheon club say the service is a lifeline for people who live alone — providing a hot meal and regular social contact.

Yet the council says the club will have to close when the dementia day care service moves from Firwood House in Crompton Way to the Thicketford Centre this year.

Tom Waring, aged 86, started going to the Thicketford Centre when his wife died nine years ago. He says the group of about 15 regulars have become good friends through the club, which charges £3.50 for a meal.

Mr Waring, of Ainsworth Lane, said: “People like myself tend to go because they live on their own and it gets them out of the house. There’s a group of us that go most days and we all have a chat before we go in and then we have a nice dinner.

“To be told we can no longer go is real a blow. There was no consultation — they just stuck a notice up saying that the service is going to cease.

“I don’t think it has been very well thought through. We’ve asked them why we can’t all have our lunch together. Surely they will be putting on meals for the dementia day service too?”

The move is part of a wider revamp of adult social care in Bolton, which will see Firwood House close altogether as the council expands its provision of care in people’s homes.

Bolton Council said it is looking to alternative venues and organ-isations to take on the club.

A council spokesman said: “We understand the concerns of those who have been dropping into Thicketford for lunch and acknowledge that it is an important element of their social life.

“We are in discussions with other local organisations who are keen to offer a similar service from an alternative venue for them to meet as a group before the changes are implemented. We have written to everyone who attends and we will be asking for their input.”

The council also said it must adapt the facilities at the Thicketford Centre to meet the needs of people with dementia and cannot accom-modate both groups.

The spokesman added: “The centre will be providing an extra service for people with specific needs, seven days a week, and alterations are nece-ssary to ensure the day centre users are safe and secure in their new premises.

“As a consequence, public access will be restricted.”

A date has not been set for the closure.