Protesters march against Highland care home closures

Hundreds of people have marched through Inverness in protest at Highland Council plans to scrap five new care homes for the elderly across the region.

A £30million plan had been pledged by the local authority to create new homes to replace the Ach an Eas and Burnside homes in Inverness; Grant House in Grantown; Invernevis House in Fort William; Urray House in Muir of Ord and Duthac House in Tain.

But on Thursday councillors are being asked to agree not to proceed with the projects after the local authority said there was no business case for them.

The council believes that given the worsening financial situation and likely further reductions in Government funding, there will be no immediate impact on the existing homes it already runs in the communities.

A march against the possible scrapping of the plans took place in Fort William last weekend.

Campaigners have travelled from across the Highlands to take part in the protest, ahead of Thursday’s council meeting.

Councillor leaves sick bed for care vote
The Press & Journal

A HIGHLAND councillor will sign himself out of hospital today to vote against a proposal to drop a promise to build five replacement care homes for the elderly.

Dingwall and Seaforth councillor David Chisholm, who has multiple sclerosis and uses a wheelchair, has been in Raigmore Hospital, Inverness, for tests and was not due to leave until tomorrow.

He revealed yesterday he felt he had no option but to attend the full council meeting at the Glenurquhart Road chamber in the city to register his disgust with the independent-Liberal Democrat-Labour administration’s proposal to shelve plans for the new care homes.

“The vote’s going to be very close,” he said. “I don’t think anybody claiming to represent their community or care home cannot attend.

“The administration is pursuing a very suspect consultation on the matter, which I consider a communication of intent.”

Opposition councillor Mr Chisholm added: “The public are being misled. I think a lot of the members know that.

“Hopefully, some of the administration will not act like sheep and simply follow their leaders.”

Hundreds of campaigners took part in a protest at Fort William at the weekend in support of the £30million new-build project.

Marchers will send the same message today when they parade to the council HQ, where campaigners from Tain will hand over a 2,000-signature petition.

Duthac House care home at Tain was among the five due to be replaced.

The list also includes Invernevis House at Fort William, Ach an Eas and Burnside in Inverness – which would be amalgamated – Grant House at Grantown and Urray House at Muir of Ord.

The council is trying to make £41million of budget savings.

Michael Foxley, the Lib Dem leader of the administration, said: “We do not have the capital funding to build new care homes without a huge impact on other key capital projects.”

Highland Senior Citizens Network chairman Ian McNamara said: “This is a once-and-for-all opportunity to establish local authority-run homes which could become beacon establishments for others to emulate.”