'Court challenge' against Kent care home closures

Campaigners fighting to save 11 care homes in Kent may challenge in court the decision to close most of them.

Kent County Council plans to shut or merge some of its homes and sell others to the private sector.

The council said the move would save it about £2m. However, some residents' relatives said they feared it would lead to worse care.

After the latest council meeting, campaigners said they were considering applying for a judicial review.

Members of the council's overview and scrutiny committee met some residents and relatives to hear their concerns before considering whether to ask their cabinet colleagues to think again.

As opponents left County Hall, some labelled the council's consultation process "a sham" and threatened to challenge the decision, saying the process had not been properly handled.

'I'm disgusted'

Among those attending the meeting was Vera Waylor, 89, a resident of Bowles Lodge in Hawkhurst, which is earmarked for replacement by extra-care housing.

She said: "I'm disgusted. When I first went there, they said I would be there 'til I died. That is what I want - to stop there. So do the others there."

Her son, John Porter, said: "There is a possibility that if you move Mum to another home it could end her life early. I don't want that to happen."

Margaret Reeves' mother, Agnes, who has dementia, is a resident at another threatened home, Manorbrooke, in Dartford.

She said she did not believe her mother would be able to cope with a move.

The council said good quality care could be commissioned for less money from private and voluntary sector organisations and insisted its own buildings were now no longer fit to use.

It has guaranteed that all people currently using services would be provided for before any homes were shut.

Eleven of the 16 care homes run by Kent County Council are affected.

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