OAP in tears after visit by Highland councillors to care homes

A visit by senior Highland councillors left an elderly care home resident in tears yesterday amid growing concern that a manifesto promise to replace the facility – and four others – would be scrapped because of the recession.

Council convener Sandy Park and housing and social work chairwoman Margaret Davidson were accused by a number of critics present of “humouring” people while a decision to drop the pledge would prove a foregone conclusion in a debate later this month.

The councillors and the authority’s chief operating officer Bill Alexander began a two-day, whirlwind tour of the five homes spending an hour at Invernevis House in Fort William at the behest of residents and relatives.

John McIntosh of Grant Place, Claggan, the founder of a campaign group initially established to save it from closure, was unimpressed by what he heard.

“It was rather heated, actually.

“They weren’t listening. And we had one old friend who was in tears today, asking ‘are they going to take my home away?’ It’s so sad.”

Speaking after the delegation’s drop-in at Urray House in Muir of Ord, Georgie Fraser of Station Road, Beauly, said: “I think they’ve made up their minds that the new-build is not going ahead.”

Neither Mr Park nor Mrs Davidson could be reached yesterday. Mrs Davidson last month acknowledged that the homes were “well used, well loved and extremely important” to communities, but added that she had received phone calls from constituents voicing both sides of the financial argument.

A key pledge of the Liberal Democrat-led council was to build care homes in Inverness, Fort William, Grantown, Muir of Ord and Tain.

The £30million project has so far been delayed.

It could be ditched altogether at a full council meeting on June 24 as part of its attempts to balance budgets over three years.

The Highland Senior Citizens Network wants councillors to have a free vote on the issue and is organising a local street march to the council’s Glenurquhart Road headquarters that day.

A similar protest is planned to be held in Fort William on June 19.