Council care home cuts rethink: Public backlash forces new plans for service

A PUBLIC backlash has led to a rethink of a controversial shake-up of council-run residential homes for the elderly in Neath and Port Talbot.

The original plan was to find a private partner to build and run three new state-of-the-art 60- bedroom homes, which would replace seven of the eight owned by the authority after they were deemed badly outdated.

But after widespread opposition during a three-month consultation process, the council has gone back to the drawing board and put forward alternative proposals. The existing homes will still close.

But now there are four replacements in the frame — one off Grove Road in Cimla and another in Green Park, Port Talbot, both with 60 bedrooms.

Two 30-bed homes will be built on land near McDonald’s in Glynneath and at Rhiwlech in Croeserw, Afan Valley.

The one home to be spared the axe, Danybryn in Pontardawe, will serve the Swansea Valley, but will be handed over to the council’s partner.

Staff of all eight homes will transfer to their new employer.

Council chief executive Steve Phillips told the Post: “We have listened to the views expressed and have come up with a revised proposal.

“It is not going to satisfy everyone but we are satisfied that having four homes meets the concerns of local communities.

“The number one issue that emerged was around the location of the homes.

“Clearly, families and friends want to be close to their loved ones and there is a benefit from residents remaining in the same general area.

“The proposal retains the number of beds that we originally identified, so that has not been compromised.”

Mr Phillips emphasised the council would be looking for a private partner, preferably a not-for-profit partner, that shared the authority’s values.

He said accusations from some quarters that the council wanted to privatise the care home service and was looking to create minimum wage establishments, were not true.

However, he did concede that the authority had yet to convince staff and trade unions, who wanted the service kept in-house.

“Everything points to the fact that local authorities, and everyone else in the public sector, have to look at alternative models for delivering services.

“We no longer have a choice,” he said.

Cabinet members will be asked to agree the revised proposal at a meeting next Wednesday.

Council leader Ali Thomas said the authority believed the changes would present the best solution to delivering a service that was fit for the 21st Century.

“We want to ensure people living in Neath and Port Talbot have equality of access to high-class services and are confident the revised proposal can achieve this,” he added.