Coronavirus: Derbyshire council called 'callous' over care home consultation

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image captionProtesters have said the plans are "upsetting"

A council has been branded "callous" for refusing to suspend a consultation into plans to close seven of its care homes despite the coronavirus pandemic.

Derbyshire County Council has proposed to close seven homes deemed to be "not fit for purpose".

The GMB union urged the authority to postpone the current consultation.

Electrical safety issues meant the process should not be delayed, the authority said.

Up to 235 residents would be moved to alternative care home accommodation if the seven homes were closed, but the council said nobody would be forced to start paying for their own care.

The homes due to close are Ladycross House in Sandiacre, Beechcroft in West Hallam, East Clune in Clowne, Holmlea in Tibshelf, The Spinney in Brimington, Goyt Valley House in New Mills and Gernon Manor in Bakewell.

Residents were due to gather for a mass protest before a full council meeting in Matlock on Wednesday, where the proposed closures were set to be discussed, but the meeting was cancelled because of the pandemic.

The council has also cancelled the four remaining public consultation events.

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image captionLadycross Care Home is one of seven facing closure under proposals by Derbyshire County Council

Campaign group Save Derbyshire Care Homes has written to council leader Barry Lewis saying the move "displays no understanding of the pressures Derbyshire's hard working care workers are facing".

"Running a disruptive public consultation in the midst of the greatest public health emergency in a generation not only sends the wrong message about the gravity of the situation," the letter said.

Jon Smith, from the GMB, said going ahead with the consultation - which is due to finish on 24 April - was "ludicrous" and would "potentially put back office staff at further risk".

He said: "At a time of a mass pandemic only Derbyshire County Council could think it's a good idea to close down elderly care home beds."

Mr Lewis told the Local Democracy Reporting Service an "unintended consequence" of postponing the consultation is some of the homes "could be closed anyway because the electrical safety issues they have are such that we have to address them within a time-limited window".

He added: "We have to carefully consider if postponing the consultation is the right thing to do."

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