Care homes closure plans in Aberavon

Provision of care for the elderly is an issue that generates some tough questions for policy-makers. Hundreds of care home workers, trade unionists and residents’ families marched on Neath Port Talbot council in February to protest at the closure of seven care homes.

The council says the homes are not fit for purpose and it can not afford the £14m pounds to renovate them.

It wants to appoint a contractor to build three homes and manage another.

The scheme is out to consultation and although the ultimate decision will not be made by any future MP, it is an issue which generates debate locally.

“If there is work needed to maintain a standard, then that work should be done,” said Caroline Jones, Conservative candidate for the Aberavon constituency.

She believes the homes should be renovated.

“It is a sore point in the Aberavon constituency, and people are against it,” she said.”The people I’ve talked to are very unhappy about it.”

Change needed

Labour’s candidate Hywel Francis says the care homes ‘issue’ is not one that has been brought up often with him.

“It has not been raised,” he said. “A month ago I went around all the homes and the people who live there, the staff and the families were happy to have talks with the council.

“Everybody realises that we need change, the homes are not suitable.”

He said that it was not an issue for Westminster and it was unfair of the media to raise the question.

Dr Francis said: “It’s fair for people in Port Talbot to raise it but one party has tried to make it into a party political question. The big question is still the economy and jobs.”

The Liberal Democrat’s candidate, Keith Davies, said: “We don’t know where these new homes will be built,” he said. “There’s too much uncertainty and the people are happy to stay where they are.”

He added that he is waiting for the results of the consultation process but is doubtful whether the care homes issue will benefit any one candidate.

“It’s pretty much vote neutral to be honest, as it’s a strictly council matter,” he said.

On that point, Plaid’s Paul Nicholls-Jones disagrees.

“It’s definitely a vote winner,” he said. “After the election I will still be campaigning on this issue. It is not going away.”

“It’s an attempt by the council at saving money. It’s a cost-cutting exercise.”