The long goodbye?

SIR - I attended, on January 29, a presentation on the future of South Molton, Beech House, residential home held in the Town's Assembly Room. Two Devon County Council representatives assured the meeting at great length that there had been no final agre

SIR - I attended, on January 29, a presentation on the future of South Molton, Beech House, residential home held in the Town's Assembly Room. Two Devon County Council representatives assured the meeting at great length that there had been no final agreement with Shaw Healthcare on the development of Beech House and that every effort would be made to consult with our community to establish the mix of care need provision we needed now and in the future.The credibility of this declaration was undermined by two points raised during the meeting. The first was that Beech House was one of the 19 homes flagged up for redevelopment in the county's autumn Devontalk magazine which also reported that the Executive had endorsed the agreement to transfer the authority's residential services to Shaw. The second was that David Johnstone, the director in charge, had extolled supported living as a viable option to Beech House in an in-house presentation on the changes.There is in fact more compelling evidence to dispel any notion that real consultation had been any part of the exercise. The County Executive Committee minutes dated 13/01/09 tell the real story. They provide a nine-point breakdown of the expenditure of �554,000 on this care transfer project to date. The list includes expenditure on financial advisers, legal advisers, and property and building advisers. That is a lot of money to spend on a 'maybe' and there will be Shaw's expenses to pay if no deal is agreed. There was no entry or total for consultation. There was, however, the following chilling entry in the minutes: "The Task Group accepted that... while the revised proposals might prolong the uncertainty as to which homes were to be developed and those which were to close...".So there we have it. The county is still determined to off-load its residential homes and those for which no developer can be found apparently will be closed. In my opinion this Council has betrayed the trust of its ratepayers particularly those in the north of the county. Nothing less than a full commitment to maintain its residential homes will start to restore that trust Tony Martin,South Molton


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