THE closure of a much-loved Lake District care home by Cumbria County Council has been branded a ‘farce’ by a local businessman.
Local entrepreneur David Brockbank appealed for plans to shut The Abbey in Staveley to be deferred at a meeting of the council’s cabinet on Thursday.
Mr Brockbank, who successfully developed Staveley Mill Yard, tabled plans for community trust take on the maintenance costs of the building.
The council would save money but remain in charge of care at a home ranked ‘good’ by the Care Quality Commission.
However, the county council’s Labour and Liberal Democrat cabinet backed the closure plan but pledged to explore more appropriate care for the village.
Speaking after the decision, Mr Brockbank, aged 65, said: “They have not considered in a positive way the views of the community.
“A 1,000-strong petition has been ignored and a solution ignored. We had heard they have already arranged the relocation of the residents (before today), so it’s all a farce. Sure, they go through all the procedure but they have actually made the decision days ago.”
Staveley’s councillor Stan Collins, who represents the Upper Kent for the Lib Dem, appealed to the cabinet not to close the home.
Council-run facilities were ‘the care of last resort’ when the private sector was too expensive or withdrawing from the sector, he said.
“We have a small number of residents in The Abbey but this is not surprising because we have been turning applicants away wholesale for some time,” he said.
Cllr Jim Bland, who represents the Conservatives for the Lyth Valley, also spoke in favour of keeping the home.
“Once the door is closed, that’s it, you can forget it. I accept it will need money spent on it because inevitably regulations change, but it is a very popular home very well supported by the village and other villages.”
Cllr Patricia Bell, cabinet member for health and care, proposed that the 28-bed home be closed. It had not been able to accept new residents because of a fire audit, she said.
With narrow corridors, steps and isolated areas, it also had a lack of ensuite rooms and was left with just six residents and unlikely to ever be fully occupied, she added.
“Undoubtedly The Abbey is treasured by the community and the community has expressed loud and clear that they would like some care provision for the older population in the village,” said Cllr Bell, the Lib Dem for Penrith East.
Of complaints about the process, she said it had been ‘long and transparent’, involving staff discussions, the parish council, local councillors, external partners, a community drop-in and feedback event, along with a public consultation.
Demand for residential places in care homes was falling and the ‘dated’ home faced prohibitive costs to bring it up to standard, she said.
Cllr Peter Thornton, cabinet member for finance, said it was time for The Abbey to move to ‘another stage’.
“We are all committed to finding the best care for the people of Staveley in the most appropriate way,” said Cllr Thornton, the Lib Dem for Kendal Fell and Strickland.