INSULT TO STAFF: Campaign to save care home from closure
Walker Grange care home, Image: LDRS
Residents, councillors and an MP are campaigning to save a care home from closure.
Walker Grange care home, in Tipton, is made up of 39 one-bed apartments properties. There are currently 22 tenants at the care home.
The proposed consultation, mooted at Sandwell’s cabinet meeting, held last Wednesday (1 September), has caused outrage in the local community, with local residents calling it is “an insult to staff”.
A petition opposing the closure has been launched in response, which at time of publication, had received over 800 signatures.
According to Sandwell council, the care home is dated, and is “proving unsuitable to meet the care and support” of individuals, with rooms not big enough and bathrooms not suitable for residents.
They argue any modernisation of the buildings will require temporary closure of the care home, creating additional financial pressures for the authority, people having to move into temporary care homes and potential job losses.
In the report, Sandwell council note the value of the site on which Walker Grange care home is built on is in the region of £500,000.
Despite Sandwell council’s proposal to close the care home, in the most recent budget monitoring report, the council had revealed it had underspent on adult social care by £2.058m.
In a letter addressed to the cabinet member for adults, health, and social care, Suzanne Hartwell, Cllr Archer Williams (Cons), Prince’s End, argued Sandwell council is “willing to make false claims” about the care home.
He noted Walker Grange care home was granted planning permission in 1990 and opened in 1992, as opposed to the the 1980s, according to Sandwell council.
According to planning documents, the application was submitted in 1989 and Walker Grange was built in 1990-91.
Cllr Williams also accused the council of being “desperate to paint Walker Grange in a negative light”.
He said: “The report suggests that the residents will have to move location if the building is refurbished. Reading this leads me to believe the council are desperate to paint Walker Grange in a negative light.
“The precedent for refurbishment is to be carried out in phases. As stated in the report, the current vacancy rate is high at Walker Grange. This would allow the council to move the residents to one half of the build while refurbishment of the other half takes place.”
Shaun Bailey, MP for West Bromwich West, said he would do “whatever [he] could” to save the care home from closure.
Speaking in the House of Commons on Thursday, Mr Bailey said: “Additional investment is welcome, but that has to come with assurance. My constituents in Tipton, because of the Labour party, are getting turfed out of their care home, despite a £2 million underspend by Sandwell Council on adult social care.
“Can my right hon. friend [Prime Minister Boris Johnson] assure my constituents in Tipton that their campaign to save Walker Grange care home is not in vain? Will he ensure that assurance comes with the investment to stop the Labour party turfing out some of the most vulnerable people in my community?
“I previously said that I would do whatever I could to keep Walker Grange open and that is exactly what I did raising the issue with the Prime Minister.
“We all saw what Sandwell Council’s so-called leader, Rajbir Singh, did in regard to Goldicroft Park, and if he wanted to, he could do the same again for Walker Grange care home and its residents.”
Goldicroft Park, located in Wednesbury, previously underwent a consultation which proposed new homes be built on the site. Following local outcry, Cllr leader, Rajbir Singh, announced that a homes plan for the park would not go ahead.
He added: “We don’t need this consultation and the distress that this situation is causing residents, some of whom are the most vulnerable within our community, is a disgrace. It is obvious that Tipton, and its residents, are not that important to Rajbir”.
A spokesperson for Sandwell council said: “It is very important that we understand fully the condition of Walker Grange and the cost of refurbishing. We know how important this is and we are always looking for ways to make sure residents’ needs are met.
“Their safety and wellbeing is our absolute priority and we will listen carefully to what they have to say to us.
“At this point no decision has been made.”
Words: Rhi Storer, Local Democracy Reporter
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