Councillor wants clear conscience over plans to move Bedford's elderly to better accommodation

A councillor told colleagues she wants to avoid having anything on her conscience, or anyone else's, by carefully planning the transfer of older people to better accommodation in Central Bedfordshire.

Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:00 am
Updated Tuesday, 3rd December 2019, 11:01 am

The local authority has been liaising with care home and day centre residents, who could be relocated to new premises.

Central Bedfordshire Council has identified seven such sites, which it is in the process of replacing with modern facilities.

Two of those were being discussed at a meeting of the council's social care, health and housing overview and scrutiny committee on Monday. (Nov 25th)

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Three projects are completed already or underway, with four others in the pipeline.

These include Ferndale Residential Home in Easton Road at Flitwick and Westlands in Leighton Buzzard.

"My chief worry on both of these projects is the upheaval any closure can have on residents," said Independent Ampthill councillor Mark Smith.

"I am pleased we are communicating with families."

Conservative Dunstable Central councillor Carole Hegley, who's the executive member for social care and housing, replied: "Where we've established an approach, we could almost say this is another in the line.

"But we've taken every care home on its merit because they are different scenarios each time.

"I don't want anything on my conscience and nor does anyone else about distress or disruption because of people moving."

The local authority would fund the building of the new premises and has agreed to set up a trading company to oversee the running of the care homes.

"It's been recognised council-owned care homes for older people do not meet the physical and environmental standards expected today," said head of service for MANOP (meeting the accommodation needs of older people) Tobin Stephenson.

"This will provide new quality care home places at a price the council and those paying for their care can afford."

There were 22 responses to the Ferndale consultation, which were generally supportive of the preferred option, he told the committee.

"Residents wanted reassurance that there would be support to help people move, existing staff would work at the new care home and that it is council run.

"If the decision to close Ferndale is made, we would guarantee a place in the new care home in Steppingley Road for those who wish it," he added.

"It will be more than three years before the replacement capacity is available."

Conservative Ampthill councillor Paul Duckett said: "It's great that the council is still investing. This should be wholeheartedly embraced.

"The very lucky residents of Leighton Buzzard and Flitwick, and the surrounding area, are about to enjoy the benefits of all our experience as we deliver two new homes for them."

The committee recommended the executive note the consultation outcome over Ferndale and approve the closure plan.

A further recommedation for security hoardings around the Steppingley Road site will be added, after this issue was raised at a corporate resources overview and scrutiny committee meeting on Thursday. (Nov 28th)