‘Big Debate’ over the care homes policy

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Fife Council’s policy of care home provision was one of the topic’s when BBC Scotland’s ’Big Debate’ programme broadcast from Adam Smith College, reports NEIL HENDERSON.

The programme hosted by BBC Scotland’s chief political correspondent, Brian Taylor featured a mixed panel including the traditional singer Sheena Wellington, SNP MSP David Torrance, Labour MP Claire Baker and former political editor of The Scotsman Hamish MacDonell.

Questions ranged from the referendum on independence, the Occupy Wall Street campaign and Scotland’s work ethic, but it was Fife Council’s care home policy that proved to be the talking point for the Glenrothes audience.

David Torrance MSP was forced to admit that the SNP-led Council decision to offer the 10 council run care homes to the private sector management market had been at best ‘disappointing’.

He countered with the suggestion that: ‘There had been no investment in the Fife care homes for thirty years’, an accusation that Labour MSP, Claire Baker and several voices from the audience dismissed as being ‘not true’.

Labour councillor, Kay Morrison attacked David Torrance and his party’s care home policy of a hand over to the private sector as being a ‘shameful business’.

Hamish MacDonell highlighted the fact the recent Registrar General’s statistics showed there will be 50 per cent of the population over 60 years of age by 2033, coupled with rising demands in the public sector and declining budget it was something that could no longer be ignored.

Mr Torrance reminded the audience and panellists of Fife Council’s success rate in the management of the care home issue.

This clearly angered Glenrothes resident, Jim Parker, who had originally put the issue to the panellists. He reacted strongly saying; “I don’t care if Fife Council were voted best council for care homes in Scotland,” and added that people wanted answers to all the problems. He continued: “We have long advocated that there is an alternative to the heavy handed management administered by Fife Council.”

He suggested that worker cooperatives that were not focused on paying dividends offered the best solution to this emotive issue.

The debate was rounded off on a sombre note with all the panellists paying tribute to the news that Trade Unionist Campbell Christie had sadly passed away that morning.