PROTESTORS’ pleas for a rural care home to be saved fell on deaf ears today (Wednesday, June 18), as councillors resolved to press ahead with its closure.
Campaigners hoping to convince Durham County Council to keep open Newtown House, in Stanhope, staged a doorstep protest outside Durham’s County Hall and bombarded a full council meeting inside with probing questions, while Weardale councillor Anita Savory put forward a motion calling for the closure to be reconsidered.
However, all these efforts failed, leaving the 40-strong band of protestors disappointed and angry.
Among the group were a long-serving former family doctor, the local silver band conductor and his elderly father and others with relatives in Newtown.
They claimed the council report recommending Newtown’s closure was flawed, the public’s views were being ignored, the decision would damage people’s health and the local economy, rural Weardale was suffering discrimination and human rights were being breached.
Joy Urwin claimed elderly people who have already been moved out have since been unsettled, unhappy and have suffered mental health problems.
One lady refuses to leave her new room, while another sits and cries all day, she said.
Cllr Savory, who last week was made an MBE for services to the community, said Newtown had an excellent reputation and the council was committing an injustice against elderly people akin to imprisoning them.
“Please put people before prices,” she said.
Cllr Morris Nicholls, the council’s cabinet member for adult services, said he fully understood how much the Weardale community valued Newtown House but all the arguments had been considered in making April’s closure decision.
Cllr Savory’s motion was defeated by 68 votes to 23.
Apri’s decision was not “called in” for extra scrutiny and, the meeting heard, the council cannot reverse it, so “implementation” has begun.
Families have been sent letters advising them on options for alternative care and assuring them the timing of any move would take into account the needs and wellbeing of the residents.
The council is also closing its four other remaining in-house care homes: Cheveley House, in Belmont; Feryemount, in Ferryhill; Grampian House, in Peterlee; and Mendip House, in Chester-le-Street.