Councillors in spotlight over care homes

THE care home saga continued with further uncertainty about the position of the vice chairman of the Council’s social work committee - while the chairman survived a vote of no confidence.

The political fall-out of the controversial decision to put care homes into private ownership continued with David Torrance and Tim Brett both firmly in the spotlight.

Councillor Torrance, vice chairman of the social work and health committee — and the SNP candidate in Kirkcaldy at May’s Scottish Parliamentary election - faced claims that he resigned after being noticeably absent from key meetings on Fife Council’s decision and his refusal to comment on the issue.

Row re-ignited

Peter Grant, leader of the administration, last week insisted Cllr Torrance was staying put.

But the row was ignited again this week by Labour.

Cllr Alex Rowley, leader of the opposition, said: “I have spoken to four people from different backgrounds and he has told them separately that he has resigned.

“He could end the speculation by saying what his position is. This needs to be clarified. It’s not an unreasonable question.”

When The Press contacted Cllr Torrance this week he again made no comment.

In a heated council meeting on Thursday, Councillor Tim Brett, chairman of the social work committee easily escaped a vote of no confidence as councillors voted along party lines, with the majority SNP and Liberal Democrat group supporting him.

The vote comes after the three-minute meeting on February 22 in which the administration refused to revoke rules on debate that would allow them to discuss the issue.

Cllr Alex Rowley, leader of the opposition, said that they would continue to fight the proposal.

He added: “What they are saying is that workers are cheaper in the private sector that may be so but they have a much higher turnaround and poorer training and poorer quality as a result of that. That brings a lot of uncertainty for clients and they need stability and to see the same faces.

“They just don’t have the courage of their conviction to have the debate.”

No credible alternative

Cllr Tim Brett, chairman of the social work and health committee, said that Labour had not supplied a credible alternative to the plans.

He said: “I saw this as an attack on the administration and what we have achieved over the past four years. I just happen to be the chairman of the committee involved. I’m very proud of what we have achieved.

‘‘They are totally out of touch with the economic catastrophe that has affected the country over the last few years

“They haven’t really offered any alternatives. They say they would have acted differently from us but they don’t say what they would have done.

“I’m frustrated - clearly this is politics - - but I do think that at the end of the day, while we are having these debates there are a lot of vulnerable families out there being worried by what is being written in the press.”

Meanwhile, Fife MSP Claire Baker, has launched a bid to have the issue debated in the Scottish Parliament.