Wednesday, 8 June 2011

Campaigners angry as council refuses to budge on care home closures

Campaigners have blasted the South Glos Tory Administration for their response to local people’s concerns about care home closures.

In March, local resident John Williams presented a petition to council with over 2,600 names, triggering a debate.The petition challenged the closure of Wapley Court Elderly Persons Home and other residential homes before the promised replacement homes had been built – planned for 2014. Mr Williams spoke of the failure of the Executive Member, Tory Councillor Matthew Riddle, and the Director to engage fully with residents, their families and staff in the implementation of the programme.

Speaking after receiving a letter from the Executive Member Mr Williams said, “This is exactly the sort of response we feared. Despite all our efforts and despite everyone on the council, including Cllr Riddle himself, voting for a rethink, nothing has really changed. I heard him saying on the radio that the petition didn’t change anything because the existing homes are not fit for purpose. Presumably if every resident in South Glos signed he still wouldn’t change! I am deeply disappointed”

Local councillor Alan Lawrance (Lib Dem, Dodington) said, “It took Matthew Riddle two months to say he’s not moving on this issue. His inflexibility shows scant regard for the residents, staff and families connected to the residential homes. Where is his understanding of people or his respect for the democratic process?”

Cllr Maggie Tyrrell, the South Glos Lib Dem’s spokesperson for Community Care and Housing, said, “The letter simply goes over old ground, rather than actually responding to the petition. We support moves to help more people stay in their own homes and to provide more modern facilities for those that, despite this, still need residential care. These changes need to be made sensitively though and the Tory administration needs to show some flexibility”

Cllr Lawrance added, “Having provided specific undertakings in Alexandra Way and Woodleaze, Matthew Riddle was not prepared to do the same for the other residential homes. His only concession is a ‘promise’ to bring forward the construction and opening of two new care homes by a few months, presumably if weather and developers permit. While he talks about people he shows little real concern for them”

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