Home’s co-op plans

A THREATENED care home could be set to become a co-operative, if a councillor’s plans are accepted.

Wamil Court, in Mildenhall, is one of 16 care homes that Suffolk County Council is seeking expressions of interests for from businesses and community enterprises.

After inquiries to the county council, Mildenhall parish councillor David Chandler wants to put forward a submission to turn the home into a staff-run co-operative.

He said: “I would like to see a non-profit, staff-run organisation with a board of trustees in charge.

“If the staff know what they are doing, why do we need to pay a manager 40 or 50 grand a year to be in charge – who better to run the place than staff who already know it?

“I would prefer it if service users all paid the same rates, too – so private and state-funded would be equal.

“I want to try to keep local people in this area when they move into a home.”

Plans include holding a weekly community lottery to provide extra funds for maintenance at the home.

Cllr Chandler must now write to Suffolk County Council for permission to hold public meetings with staff and to look at the home’s business documents.

“The real decision lies with the staff. If they aren’t on board then it won’t happen,” he said.

Cllr Colin Noble, Suffolk’s portfolio holder for adult and community services, said community and staff-run solutions would always be welcome, but that Cllr Chandler’s proposals would be given the same consideration as any other.

“We are looking for people who are wanting to get involved in our care homes to come forward.

“The idea of our own staff being involved and setting up their own co-operative is something that appeals to us but the business plan has to be right.

“Nothing is on the table and nothing is off the table so far.”

Cllr Chandler’s interest was raised at a meeting of Mildenhall Parish Council on June 30.

The parish council said it would support any proposal being given fair hearing by Suffolk County Council.