Opposition unites against U-turn on care homes

A major change to South Gloucestershire’s proposals to provide new Elderly Persons Homes (EPH) will have to be reconsidered, a council committee decided yesterday (27th October).  Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors joined forces to insist that a U-turn by the ruling Conservatives should be consulted on.

Back in February, the Conservative Cabinet agreed a new strategy for supporting older people, including the future provision of EPHs.  This came after a public consultation exercise in which 90% of respondents backed the option to ‘decommission the existing care homes and provide new care homes’, two of which would still be run by the Council.  Councillors and unions were given a guarantee at the beginning of 2010 that the council would continue to be the direct provider of two of these EPHs.

However, this autumn the Conservative councillor responsible for Community Care amended that agreed understanding and decided that the two new homes would be provided and run ‘in partnership’ by an external organisation.  Labour councillors called in this U-turn as they felt it went against all the previous promises given to residents, their families and staff.

Yesterday’s meeting of the Community Care Select Committee resolved that:

“This committee does not believe that there has been adequate public consultation with regards to whether the council or an external organisation should run the two new care homes.”

“This committee believes that the Executive Member should defer his decision pending a full, transparent, public consultation on the options available.”

Speaking after the meeting, Community Care spokesperson Cllr Andy Perkins (Labour, Woodstock) said:

“Residents, their families and staff have been misled by the council, which gave a guarantee just months ago that it would provide these two new homes itself.  The Conservative administration has made a U-turn but is pretending that the partnership approach was always an option.  This was not what the public or councillors understood from the unambiguous promises made to us.”

“If new information about costings has come to light since, this should be made clear and a new consultation carried out with the new information.  To rush through a different decision brings great discredit to the council.  The committee recognised this and now the administration must do the right thing.”

Source: Labour Councillors on South Gloucestershire Council

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