Shock move to private care sparks outrage

FIFE Council is set to privatise its residential care home places.

But the vote taken at Tuesday’s social work committee meeting has been blasted as ‘‘an affront to democracy’’ - and it has sparked a political war of words.

The local authority had previously unveiled a £40m care home replacement programme, but now it is set to enter into discussions with potential care home providers in the private and not-for-profit sectors to replace its ten homes.

Councillors voted in favour of the controversial move on a 6-5 vote.

Mockery

Opposition councillors objected, not only to the proposal itself but also to the administration’s motion invoking the unanimous view of a cross party review group three years previously that decided the local authority needed to start on a programme of replacing its homes.

Cllr Alex Rowley, Labour leader, said that the working group’s decision had been that the Council should remain a direct care provider.

He also highlighted that the results of the Council’s own consultation in which 77 per cent of people said they would prefer the local authority to keep its current care homes and refurbish them.

He hit out: ‘‘If your motion is to privatise these homes then the consultation was a complete waste of time and a complete mockery.”

He backed a call from Cllr Tom Adams that the decision be brought before the full Council for further debate,

He added: “This is an affront to democracy and I intend to challenge it. This isn’t about change, it’s about privatisation.

“No public service and council service is safe as long as we have a Lib Dem/SNP administration privatising services.”

Cllr Tim Brett, committee chairman, said that residents would only be moved to homes in the same area.

He said: “I’m not hiding from the fact there was a very clear message that people want us to return our own homes.

‘‘I also note that they said they don’t want us to replace care homes at all. I don’t think that is tenable.”

The plans would mean the proposed care home in Ostler’s Way, Kirkcaldy would be built and operated by the private sector.