Tyne & Wear

Council care home closure consultation in County Durham

Residents, carers and staff at County Durham's last council-run care homes are to be consulted over plans to close them.

Seven homes were closed by the Labour-run county council in 2010 as part of a package of budget cuts.

The council said it was facing a £222m savings target for 2011-2017 and private sector care was cheaper.

The affected homes are in Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee, Chester-le-Street and Stanhope.

The council's cabinet member for adult services Morris Nicholls said it needed to consider whether its homes were "fit for purpose and value for money".

Three proposals

"It is extremely important that when making any decision on the future of our care homes we consider the views of not only of those currently living in them but also their carers, family members, staff and other relevant organisations and individuals," Mr Nicholls said.

The three-month consultation will consider three proposals: keeping and repairing the homes, closing them and moving residents to independent homes or seeing if other organisations might take over the homes' management.

There are currently 83 people in full-time residential care in the five homes.

Each place costs an average of £837 a week, according to council figures, compared with less than £474 per week in the private sector, the authority said.

When the plans were announced the leader of the council's Conservative group, Richard Bell, said the authority should reconsider planned capital projects rather than target front-line services.

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