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Devon County Council care closures to be ‘challenged’

PUBLISHED: 11:43 18 June 2014 | UPDATED: 11:43 18 June 2014

Signs of protest by Oakwell Care Home in Bickington.

Signs of protest by Oakwell Care Home in Bickington.

Archant

Decision to close care homes and day centres to be ‘called in’ by council’s own scrutiny committee.

A DECISION to close 20 council-run care homes and 17 day care centres across Devon is expected to be challenged by Devon County Council’s own scrutiny committee, the Gazette understands.

On Monday, it was announced that Beech House in South Molton; Burrow House in Ilfracombe; Lydiate Lodge at Lynton; Fairlea in Northam; and Oakwell in Bickington are among the homes set to close, meaning residents will now have to seek similar care from the private sector.

County-wide, only two homes will remain, specialist dementia units in Torrington and Newton Abbot.

Of the 11 North Devon day centres marked for closure, five will go – Springfield and Quayside in Bideford; Beech House in South Molton; Burrow House in Ilfracombe; and a hub at the Plough in Torrington.

But Oakwell in Bickington, and Barnstaple-based Rosebank, Silverhill, Tarka and Greenfields will be retained as a new ‘integrated service’ at a site still to be decided.

The future of the Oasis day centre in Barnstaple is still unclear.

As the Gazette went to press yesterday (Tuesday), Liberal Democrat and non-aligned county councillors were making moves to ‘call in’ the Conservative-led cabinet’s decision.

Frank Biederman, independent county councillor for Fremington Rural, was one of three members, along with Lib Dem councillors Alan Connett and Alastair Dewhurst, hoping to refer the decision to the council’s own ‘People’s Scrutiny Committee’.

Mr Biederman told the Gazette: “We are challenging the decision on the grounds that the evidence base the council has used is flawed.

“We don’t believe there is alternative or equivalent care elsewhere in the community.

“The decision has to be called in by three member of the scrutiny committee within five days and a special meeting will have to be arranged to enable us to ask the cabinet to look at this again.”

Unison has called the decision ‘shameful’, saying it would result in more than 1,000 job loses and leave more 400 vulnerable adults facing an uncertain future.

But councillor Stuart Barker, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said a phased closure of homes and day centres over the next 18 months was the ‘only way’ the authority could plug a £200million Government funding gap.

He said: “Nothing will happen immediately. This is a process that will take time and we will do this with great care and sensitivity.

“In taking the decisions I want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to have a service from us gets it, be it residential care or a day service, and that they will continue to receive a service that meets their needs.”

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