Scepticism over county plans to sell care homes

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MOVES to sell off Suffolk County Council’s care homes have been met with scepticism.

The authority plans to seek expressions of interest from organisations, businesses and community enterprises to take on its 16 care homes.

It has dropped an option to shut them all down in response to a consultation in which 53 per cent of people favoured selling the homes as going concerns.

The homes will be marketed by commercial and property advisors KMPG with a decision to be made in February.

The proposal, which will save £4 million a year, is to be discussed by the county’s cabinet on Tuesday but has already received a mixed verdict from families.

Facilities affected include Davers Court and Glastonbury Court, in Bury St Edmunds, Ixworth Court, in Ixworth, Wade House, in Stowmarket and Wamil Court, in Mildenhall.

As part of one option, Davers Court had been earmarked for closure with five other homes.

Dr Peter Kilner, whose mother-in-law Margaret Turner lives at Davers Court, in Shakers Lane, said: “I remain pessimistic that they will be able to find people who can run them to the same standard that they have been run by the council. To my mind it isn’t a business that lends itself to the private sector particularly well unless there’s at least some state sector to act as a benchmark for standards.”

Julie Cole, whose grandad Henry Alcock is also in Davers Court, added: “We are still being forced to work to the agenda of the county council and still feel that it is money rather than the quality of care that is the driving force.”

CllR Colin Noble, portfolio holder with responsibility for adult services, said there were already 28 expressions of interest for the homes.

He added: “I recognise and understand that people have concerns but we will do everything we can to work with people to alleviate those concerns. It isn’t in our resident’s interest for this to be anything but a robust process so that the long term future of the homes is secured.

“When we come back in February we will be looking to see if there are any homes the market place didn’t want but we have to go through this process first and then we can make more decisions.”