Fenland councillor's remarkable attack on 'greed' involved in care home closure threat

PUBLISHED: 11:49 21 April 2011 | UPDATED: 10:31 26 April 2011

Aerial view of Kingswood Park Care Home.

Aerial view of Kingswood Park Care Home.

Archant

A CHARITY was accused today of being greedy for allegedly accepting new residents into a care home for £500 a week even though they planned to close it later this year.

Councillor Jan French said of the Methodist Homes Association who runs Kingswood Home in March: “Call them a charity-I don’t think so.”

Cllr French was one of the Conservative councillors who joined a protest outside Kingswood Park last Saturday.

She accepted responsibility for the closure decision rests ultimately with Sanctuary Housing Association who owns the building but insisted Methodist Homes must take their share of blame.

“MHA must have known for sometime a care contract with the county council was not going to be renewed,” she said.

“I ask the question: why did they in the last four months take in new residents. Greed I would say. My understanding is that each resident pays approximately £500 a week and with 40 residents it doesn’t take too long to work out how much is involved.”

She said Sanctuary has decided the building requires “uneconomical refurbishment” and it was not the fault of county council cuts that the home is to close.

“The county council is a victim of circumstances,” she said.

The closure threat to Kingswood Park has ignited the local election campaign this week.

Conservative candidates turned out in force to support a protest group trying to stop the 40 residents from having to move up to 30 miles away.

But as 1,000 signatures were collected for a petition opposed to its closure, Labour and Independent candidates accused Tory candidates of hypocrisy in fighting to save it.

Labour’s Martin Field, a candidate for March East said: “I understand that there is an issue related to changes in county council funding. Is this true?

“If it is how ironic that it is Tory councillors claiming to be fighting to save it.

Independent councillor Mark Archer said he found it odd that Conservatives councillors were claiming to be “fighting to save care homes, bus services and fire stations - these are all threatened with closure as a result of their cuts”.

Conservative councillors and candidates involved in Saturday’s protest were adamant the closure threat had nothing to do with cuts.

Privately some believe the home is being primed for demolition as part of a plan to develop adjoining land.

As our aerial photo shows, access through the site of the former Cambridgeshire County Council-owned site would open up a vast tract of land for housing.

Cllr French added: “Local Conservatives will fight to do whatever to try and keep the home open and allow these residents to stay in the care home that they call home.

“We mustn’t forget, either, the staff that stands to lose jobs as a result of this planned closure.”

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