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Council seals fate of homes

SEVENTY elderly people will lose their homes after Kirklees Council officially decided to axe three residential homes.

SEVENTY elderly people will lose their homes after Kirklees Council officially decided to axe three residential homes.

And Unison union members who went along to yesterday's meeting when the decision was made claimed that councillors yawned as they discussed the homes' fate.

The homes to close are Hartley Manor at Bradley, Lydgate House, Batley and Eddercliffe Grange, Cleckheaton.

The council, which has to bring its homes up to improved standards by 2007, wants to put more resources into looking after the elderly in their own homes rather than putting them in institutions.

Paul Holmes, Unison branch secretary, gave an impassioned speech at the meeting.

He said: "We cannot find any public support for these closures. If there was a referendum it would not be supported.

"To quote Harold Macmillan, once you start selling off the family silver you are in trouble."

Clr David Sheard, who has responsibility for social affairs, said that the money saved by closing two homes last year was ploughed into helping the elderly stay at home.

He said: "We have had an over-reliance on residential care. At the moment, we are failing to make alternative provision.

"I take no pleasure in these recommendations. We know we have got excellent staff in our homes."

He told the meeting that none of the three homes could be adapted to meet the required standards.

Clr Gary Dimmock said that the council's policy was entirely in keeping with that of the Government.

The homes will have different fates.

Hartley Manor will be turned into sheltered housing by a housing association; it is hoped that Lydgate House will be bought and run by a private company or housing association; and Eddercliffe Grange will be turned into specialist care facilities for the elderly.

Threelands Grange in Birkenshaw, a home closed last year, is to be turned into a new residential home by an independent buyer.

Clr Sheard said after the meeting: "Under this second phase of the modernisation programme, the options were to spend £1m on refurbishing each home, £2m to knock them down and rebuild each one, work with others to provide improved and alternative services or to do nothing.

"All our consultations on modernising services for older people have seen overwhelming support for providing community services to support people to live independently in their own homes as long as possible with quality residential care as a back-up."

Heather Frear, Unison joint chief steward spoke at the meeting.

She said afterwards: "I was disgusted that councillors sat there yawning while they discussed 70 elderly people's futures.

"They have not got enough community staff to provide home care."


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