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Lib Dems criticise closure of Surrey care homes

February 23, 2022 9:38 AM

Carla Morson at Abbeywood Residential HomeYesterday, Surrey County Council's Cabinet agreed to close eight residential care homes.

Lib Dem Councillors have criticised the move which leaves the future of around 150 vulnerable residents in the balance with the risk they may end up being placed in accommodation further away from their family and paying more for the services they receive.

Even though the majority of responses to a public consultation favoured the option to modernise and refurbish the care homes, the County Council decided to go ahead with a programme to close the homes before the end of 2024.

The Council will now start work on closing eight care homes, with 433 residential places in total, in Ash, Bookham, Englefield Green, Horley, Lingfield, Merstham, Staines-upon-Thames and Woking.

Carla Morson, Lib Dem County Councillor for Ash and member of Surrey's Adults and Health Select Committee, said:

"My biggest concern is that Abbeywood in Ash Vale may be closed coming so quickly after having most of our older people's services moved to Guildford. Abbeywood is central to our community, loved and supported by all and to lose it will be a huge blow."

"I know Abbeywood well and it's a place where everyone is happy. They try to be as self-sufficient as possible by doing most of their own maintenance and the community also helps out wherever possible. It is next door to the local Health Centre, so have GP support on the doorstep and Frimley Park Hospital is far away if people need further treatment. There is plenty for the residents to do; they often get people stopping or waving to them and the children often take cards or pictures for them to look at."

Will Forster, Leader of the Surrey Lib Dems group, added:

"The Lib Dems and I question how seriously the Council has taken the public consultation on closing these care homes, as the majority held view was ignored. The Council had already assumed it would save £10.1 million over the next three years by closing them, the decision seemed to have been made beforehand."

"Most important issue is the real-world impact on the vulnerable residents who will have to move from their home. I was glad to hear that the aim was that they would only have to move once to find a suitable, alternative facility, however it remains to be seen what the ultimate cost will be in terms of the financial and emotional impact."

"If the care homes do close, ideally we would like to see the sites put to use for delivering other Council or NHS services but if not, we are concerned about the Council's record on handling land and property issues with a number of buildings being left empty for long periods."