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Lib Dems say care home decision was made ‘cut and dried’ months ago

PUBLISHED: 14:43 16 June 2014 | UPDATED: 14:43 16 June 2014

Oakwell at Bickington is one of the North Devon care homes facing closure.

Oakwell at Bickington is one of the North Devon care homes facing closure.

Archant

Opposition leaders say there is ‘no surprise that axe has been wielded’.

OPPOSITION Liberal Democrat councillors on Devon County Council have criticised the Conservative-run council’s decision to close 20 residential care homes and 17 day care centres across Devon.

Lib Dem group leader Cllr Alan Connett said the decision was already ‘cut and dried’ months ago.

In a statement issued after today’s announcement, he said cuts announced in the budget in January – and the fact that Conservatives were mainly silent at the special ‘cuts’ budget meeting last month – demonstrated that few should be surprised by the axe being wielded today.

“Devon is a ‘pickpocket’ council; it’s put up council tax, while cutting services,” he said.

“We believe there have been unfair comparisons. The county council says it costs more each week to have a resident in its care homes than it does to buy a bed in a private care home.

“However, we hear that the county has been encouraging people towards the private sector which can have led to council beds being empty and costs appearing to be higher.

“I very much welcome the two specialist dementia centres and appreciate the council has said the closures of the 20 homes will take place over up to 18 months, but really we all know the truth.

“The Conservatives don’t want to run services for Devon’s residents, they want to be money men, managing budgets and buying care services as though it was a supermarket tin of beans.

“With no council-provided care homes, it will be interesting to see if there is now new pressure from the private care sector for higher prices for care beds,” added Cllr Connett.

He said closure of 17 day centres and amalgamation of others will make this a bitter-sweet day for many families across the county.

“We welcome the news that 17 centres will remain open, although some are being amalgamated, but we will need to ensure that proper care is taken of those who will lose their day centre services to ensure proper alternatives are put in place,” said Cllr Connett.

“We need to read the detail of today’s announcement, which is lengthy. What we do know is that many people will believe these decisions were already made - and simply announced today - regardless of the consultation and pleadings from residents and communities over the past months.”

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