Newtown House closure needs to be reconsidered, councillor claims

Darlington and Stockton Times: Anita Savory and Stanhope Parish Council chairman Richard Mews have both publicly condemned the decision to close Newtown House Anita Savory and Stanhope Parish Council chairman Richard Mews have both publicly condemned the decision to close Newtown House

A COUNCILLOR is urging colleagues to support reversing a decision to close a Durham dales care home.

Anita Savory has tabled a motion asking fellow Durham county councillors to request that the authority’s cabinet reconsider closure of Newtown House in Stanhope.

The motion will be discussed when the full council meets in Durham on Wednesday (June 18).

Her motion states: “This council requests that the cabinet reconsider their decision to close the residential care home facility at Newtown House in Stanhope, on the grounds of the geographical location and the lack of local alternative provision.

“Closure would violate the dignity of the elderly and cause severe hardship and suffering to both residents and their families.”

The cabinet agreed to close the council's five remaining care homes in April to save cash.

Cllr Savory, who represents Weardale, said Newtown House deserves special consideration due to its rural setting and its importance to Weardale.

Objectors argue uprooting its elderly residents could cause upset, illness and even death, while local families face having to face much longer journeys to see their loved ones.

She said: “The feeling is still so high among the people of Weardale.

“They are still reeling from the loss of their care home and this is a last ditch attempt to try and help those families who will suffer hardship and devastation when that home closes.”

Although unsure of the motion's outcome, Cllr Savory said it was important to put it forward.

She said: “We cannot just roll over and let them do this, we must make our opposition known at every point.

“We want the councillors to really search their hearts and consider what these elderly residents futures and what it is going to do to them and their families.”

Rachael Shimmin, corporate director of children and adult services at Durham County Council, said: “The council’s cabinet considered all of the feedback received and this was balanced against a wide range of factors, including a fall in demand for residential care places, particularly in regard to our own care homes; the need for significant investment in the five properties; and the availability of suitable, lower cost accommodation within the independent sector as well as significant financial pressures due to government funding cuts.”

She also said the cabinet’s decision does not need to be ratified by the full council.

It meets at 10am in the main chamber at County Hall, Durham.

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