Shouting and jeering over care home closures
ANGRY members of the public demanded councillors debate the future of care homes and day centres in the council chamber.
Pleas for further discussion about plans to close eight care homes and seven day centres at a meeting of the city council last night were initially refused – but after angry shouts from the public gallery, councillors debated the issue and eventually agreed to extra time for questions.
But campaigners did not believe that the answers given by the councillor responsible for social care, Glenise Morgan, sufficiently covered the matter and there was further shouting and jeering at the Council House.
As previously reported in the Post, the council claims that the changes are being made to residential and day services as part of its "modernisation of services" over the next three years.
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A petition of almost 3,000 names was handed into the council opposing the closure of the council-run residential care homes and day centres from the Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance, and Unison and GMB unions, and Matthew Carey, who handed in the signatures, said that a further 500 people had signed several different online petitions, which will remain open until Christmas.
Chairwoman of Bristol Older People's Forum, Judith Brown, right, said: "Have you got the guts to do this? People want to keep these homes and day care centres open."
Julie Boston said: "We know that whenever things are privatised, whether it is transport, health or education, that users suffer and investors benefit and it is totally irresponsible. You should be getting on to central government to hound people not paying taxes by using tax havens so we can keep city of sanctuary for the people of Bristol, as well as incomers."
Union the GMB had submitted a statement to the meeting, urging the council to put a hold on plans until the election of the city's mayor.
"We consider this a community issue as it has an impact across the city – affecting the people of Bristol and staff currently working for the council when the council removes / significantly reduces these services and should be raised at a full council meeting," the statement said.
"This rationalisation is all about money – making cuts to services to the most vulnerable in order to balance the books. The standard of the homes is not the real issue as providing the ownership of the premises do not change then there is no obligation to refurbish the property."
The union claims that care home closures made over the last five to six years have not realised the projected savings and that the council has not been able to quantify savings that have been made. They argue that the key question was why the homes are not being managed "competently" and that if council-run care homes had just 80 per cent occupancy they would make a profit.
When Rowena Hayward, of the GMB, spoke at the meeting her comments were met with rapturous applause by the public gallery and some of the opposition councillors.
When asked by members of the Bristol Anti-Cuts Alliance to "justify the attack on the elderly and vulnerable" using the services, Ms Morgan denied it was an attack.