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Council urged to 'save our homes'
COUNCILLORS faced an angry protest against closing care homes as they arrived at Durham’s County Hall this morning (Wednesday, October 30).
Carers, people with loved ones in the residential homes and trade unionists staged a noisy rally on the steps of County Hall ahead of a full meeting of Durham County Council.
About 80 people joined the protest, waving placards saying ‘Home is where the heart is’ and chanting ‘Save Our Homes’.
The council is consulting on three options for the future of five homes – repair, privatisation and closure.
They are home to 49 people, the eldest of whom is 100.
Pauline Parkins, whose 90-year-old mother-in-law Mary lives at Feryemount, said: “We’re here as the voice of our relatives and staff. We have a duty of care to older people. We’re all get there at some point and we need to retain these services.”
Maureen Sawyer, whose 93-year-old mother Doris Ayre lives in Newtown House, said: “The care is exceptional. She’s settled there and this has upset her. She’s getting very worried and stressed.”
Leaders of the GMB and Unison trade unions urged the council to put care before cash, consider the 170 workers who face losing their jobs and start talks over improving the homes.
In the council meeting, Weardale Independent councillor John Shuttleworth condemned the council for considering closing the homes.
In response, council leader Simon Henig said the authority had been forced to cut £110m from its spending since 2010 and faced further cuts of another £100m.
In such circumstances every service had to be reviewed, he said, but all views would be taken into account during and following the consultation period.
He rejected Coun Shuttleworth’s claim that Weardale was being treated unfairly, saying it had an Area Action Partnership budget equal to areas with populations ten times higher.
“We’ve always said we would treat all areas of this county fairly.
“But by 2017 we will have lost almost half our previous budget. Unfortunately, it’s necessary to review not just this service but every service we undertake.”
Consultation runs until January 19. To take part, call 03000-265-680, write to the council at Room 2/108-111, County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UG or email: email@example.com
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