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Demonstrators protest against council’s ‘callous’ plan to close its last two care homes

Protests have been held against Southampton City Council’s decision to close its two remaining care homes.

The Labour-run council says it would save £1.3m if the two care homes were shut down, but protesters and unions say the move would leave around 50 elderly residents losing their homes and 80 care staff under threat of losing their jobs.

Unite and Unison arranged the demonstration against the “callous” decision outside of Solent University’s Spark building where local politicians, including the council leader, were holding talks.

Southampton City Council plan on closing Holcroft House and Glen Lee House by April 2020, with the public consultation on the care home closures beginning last Wednesday.

It has said it will relocate all affected staff and will help residents move to other locations, picking up private bills if necessary.

The two unions have called for the city council to find another alternative to the proposed closures, and have threatened strikes if the council approves the plans.

Unite Southampton branch secretary Mark Wood said he was urging people to make their views known through the consultation process and was hoping for the Southampton community to show the strength of felling about this “callous proposal.”

He said: “We are urging people to make their views known about the need to retain these two homes during the consultation process which began on 24 October.

“It can’t be right that the elderly residents have to be uprooted from their homes at their advanced time of life.

“We appreciate that Tory government austerity cuts have left the council with difficult decisions to make, but these closures would only save £1.3m from 2020-21, according to the council’s own figures.”

“We have had talks with the council, making the point that the savings could be made elsewhere in the budget, such as the plans to spend £1m on solar powered compactor bins.

“We believe the council needs to reconfigure its priorities.”

When the budget was released last week, the council leader Christopher Hammond said: “There is a shift away from people using care homes, instead opting to receive care in their own homes.

“As a council we also need to transition over to this and help to provide residents with this care that they're asking for.”

Unison and Unite have said their members may go on strike if the council doesn’t abandon the plans, with a decision due in February next year.

 Image - Unite

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