Campaigners hit back over care home criticism

CAMPAIGNERS who kept a Llanelli care home open have hit back at criticism that £500,000 will be spent on a near-empty home.

Carmarthenshire Council leader Meryl Gravell, who had recommended St Paul’s close, said it was “absolutely bonkers” the average council taxpayer would pay £7.40 more to keep open a home which would soon have only one resident.

But Councillor John Jenkins defended full council’s decision to over-rule the executive board and keep the home — and fellow Llanelli care home Caemaen — open and in council control.

He said it could pay for itself if it was filled and he had full confidence in council officers to be able to achieve that.

Mr Jenkins said: “The council should accept the result with less spin and get on with running our homes efficiently and effectively.”

The councillor, a former Llanelli mayor, added: “It was obvious that for as long as the two homes were under threat of closure potential residents would be put off from putting their names down for either home.

“However, if the homes are run closer to their maximum occupancy then they are not a burden on the taxpayer.”

Fellow campaigner Councillor Sian Caiach said residents who were “encouraged to leave if they wanted any choice in their relocation” must be allowed to return, waiting lists reopened and beds used for much-needed respite care until they were filled by permanent tenants.

Deryk Cundy, a member of campaign group Residents Against Care Home Closure, said: “They seem to be continuing the policy that has been thrown out, which is what everyone is surprised about. Everyone thinks their job should be to try and make them work.”

But council deputy leader Kevin Madge said: “My rate payers are really angry they are paying more council tax for something that is empty.

“If there is a waiting list people would accept it but, because there isn’t a waiting list, people are really angry.

“I think the rate payers of Carmarthenshire expect us to run our business properly.”

Bruce McLernon, the council’s director of social care, told the Post: “We haven’t been running the homes down.”

He said the council’s schemes to keep people in their own homes had reduced demand.

“We have no bed blocking, no waiting list, we have never been in this position before. Across our local authority homes at the moment the number of vacancies is in excess of 70 beds.”