Council-run care homes in County Durham face closure
Council bosses in Durham are considering closing the county's five remaining local authority-run residential care homes.
The Labour-run county council opted to close seven homes in 2010 as part of a package of budget cuts.
Faced with a £222m savings target for 2011-2017, the council said it was now considering closing the remaining five.
The affected homes are in Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee, Chester-le-Street and Stanhope.
A three-month consultation will seek the views of residents, families and voluntary agencies.'Fit for purpose'
There are currently 83 people in full-time residential care in the five homes, with each place costing an average of £837 a week, according to council figures. The authority said equivalent costs in the private sector were less than £474 a week.
Many of the buildings are also in need of repair, the authority said.
Morris Nicholls, the council's cabinet member for adult services, said: "The council has experienced significant budget reductions and, as a result, we are looking at all of our services to ensure they are cost-effective and fit for purpose.
"In the case of our residential care homes, we know that more suitable accommodation can be provided for residents within the independent sector at a lower cost.
"However, we would not consider making any changes to the way we provide residential care without first seeking the views of those involved and ensuring their feedback informs any decision."
Richard Bell, leader of the council's Conservative group, said the authority should reconsider planned capital projects rather than target front-line services.