Unions Vow To Fight On To Save Southampton Care Homes

UNIONS have vowed to continue their fight to save two council care home after Tory council leaders agreed to close them down.

They will consult carers next week about possible industrial action over the closure of the 33-bed Birch lawn in Sholing and 55-bed Whitehaven Lodge in Millbrook.

The closures will result in 61 staff facing redundancy while 54 remaining residents, many who thought they had a home for life, will be moved the next 18 months.

Unions collected a petition of more than 5,000 names to object to the decisions.

Care staff and residents have been devastated by the move which will break up long-standing friendships and leave residents facing an uncertain future.

Southampton Unison branch secretary Mike Tucker said: “We will be meeting members about the possibility of industrial action as part of our campaign to keep the homes open.”

He insisted: “We have not given up hope the decision can be reversed. The Cabinet meeting demonstrated widespread opposition to the proposal. We are not going to go away.”

Unite convenor Terry Hinton added: “We have got to respond to management. We are not going to let it die.”

He said while care staff would be reluctant to strike when they were looking after residents there we other forms of action that could be taken, such as more lobbying.

“It’s a matter of lifting morale. It’s terrible. They are devastated. It’s like they have been laying down and someone has kicked them in the teeth.”

Councillor Ivan White, Cabinet member for adult social care and health, said he could not ignore a falling demand for residential care which was likely to accelerate as more people chose to stay at home longer.

The council claims it will save around £500,000 a year by buying cheaper care in the private sector, however campaigners have questioned the figures.

In a statement Cllr White, said: “Our biggest commitment now is to keep residents, their family and friends, and staff up to date with changes by arranging personal visits to all residents and working with them to try to meet their wishes as much as possible. We are working hard to make sure that the changes go as smoothly as possible.”