A decision to close a trio of Leeds older people’s homes won’t be reconsidered, despite cross party calls for a rethink and many weeks of campaigning.
Almost a third of Leeds City Council’s 99 councillors - including the odd dissenting voice from within the ruling Labour group’s ranks - spoke on the future of Middlecross care home, in Armley, Siegen Manor, in Morley, and The Green in Seacroft, at today’s (Wednesday) full council meeting.
Lib Dem group leader Stewart Golton and Conservative councillor Neil Buckley, shadow spokesman for adult social care, had asked for the decision to be “referred back” to the council’s cabinet.
But after two hours of debate and emotive speeches from a large chunk of the chamber, the request was voted down by 60 votes to 34.
It allayed fears of a potential unprecedented political backlash from Labour councillors, several of whom had signed an earlier “call-in” request to send the matter back to the council’s executive board.
Councillor James Lewis, deputy leader of the council, stressed that the authority has invested £30m in its care services and “the commitment is there” to put resources where they are needed.
Councillor Rebecca Charlwood, who was handed the adult social care brief just a few months go, admitted the decision to close any homes was “very emotive”.
But she slammed the opposition for using the issue as a “political football”.
She added that traditional modes of care were now “outdated”.
Councillor Alan Lamb, a senior Conservative councillor, said it wasn’t about keeping homes open for the sake of it, but about ensuring that there is “flexibility” in the financing and timing of any final decisions.
“It would be irresponsible to close these homes when there is not adequate provision elsewhere,” he said.
After the vote, Coun Lamb slammed Labour colleagues for “a shameful decision, ignoring all evidence and consultation feedback from the people of Leeds”.
Councillors from Leeds Conservatives, Morley Borough Independents, the Green Party and the Lib Dems had all signed three other call in requests over the executive board’s decision to close the three homes and their associated day centres.
Leeds East MP Richard Burgon had also waded in, saying “no amount of glamorous city centre projects will compensate for people living with dementia in Seacroft being made to leave what is their home”.