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Care home consultation is labelled 'a farce'
6:30am Monday 21st October 2013 in News
CONSULTATIONS into the future of two Shoebury care homes has been dismissed as "a farce" after it was revealed plans to build new homes on the sites were drawn up in July.
Delaware House in Maplin Way, had been earmarked by Southend Council for upgrading along with the closure of Priory House in Prittlewell Chase after a review estimated more than £1.7million is needed to bring them up to modern standards.
A review into the two care homes was launched last year. A cross-party group of councillors recommended Priory House and its day centre are shut and Delaware is redeveloped.
The review also estimated that keeping the two homes open would cost £22million over the next decade – £10million more than housing the residents in private or charitable care homes.
A public consultation over the future of the homes was launched by the council on June 3 and ended on September 1.
However, documents exist showing drawings for potential housing estates on both sites were given to the council in July as part of a feasibility study drawn up by architects Smith and Metson.
On the Delaware site, drawings show room for 28 houses and 12 flats, along with 23 houses for the Priory site.
The in-depth drawings go as far as showing interiors for the houses and flats and are labelled “preferred design”.
Some have said the public consultation around the homes has been a complete waste of time and money if plans are this far down the line.
Unison has so far collected over 10,000 signatures from people who want to preserve the homes.
Councillor Ron Woodley said at no point in the lead up to the consultation had there ever been any mention of development on the Delaware site.
He added: “It just shows that this is pre-determined. It goes fully in the face of public opinion.
“It makes you wonder what this business of having a public consultation is for when the council has already got proposals for developing the site up there.”
He added: “The whole thing is a farce. No matter what people say or do they have already got it all mapped out.”
Councillor Martin Terry added: “The drawings are dated July this year, so these were all done before the meetings were taking place. I’m sure they must have been working on it even before that date.
“The idea of a consultation is good but let’s have some integrity about them. The council is going out with a secret brief.”
Claire Wormald, secretary of the Southend branch of Unison, said: “It’s always concerning when you feel that it’s a skewed consultation and we’ve been that saying all the way through."
A council spokesman stressed a decision had yet to be made about the homes, and added: "These documents were put out as suggestions for people to see as an option. They are to show what could be done."
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