Suffolk: Another u-turn as care homes get reprieve

SUFFOLK: The county’s fourth u-turn since Mark Bee became leader-elect was heralded today as six care homes are set to be given a reprieve.

The county is due to unveil what it plans to do following its review of care homes which took place over the winter.

And it is expected to announce that closure-threatened homes are to be given more support by the council – including homes at Wickham Market and Stowmarket.

A county insider said it remained keen to transfer as many homes as possible – including three in Ipswich – to other operators, but recognised that there were a “core” number of homes that it would be difficult to transfer but which offered valuable services to their residents and the communities they served.

These are now likely to remain within the county council.

This u-turn comes in the wake of the council deciding not to stop funding all school crossing patrols, abandoning plans to divest all libraries, and deciding against removing subsidies from concessionary bus passes for students travelling to faith schools.

Suffolk currently runs 16 care homes, and in a report published last October, it had come up with three alternative scenarios:

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- Sell off all care homes to the private or voluntary sector.

- Close all the homes and buy services from other providers.

- Look to sell of 10 of the homes and be prepared to close the other six.

The consultation period ended in January, and during the winter cabinet member Colin Noble and senior officers visited all the county’s homes.

The future of the homes is to be discussed by the county’s cabinet at its meeting on May 24 – and the agenda for that meeting is due to be published today.

North Ipswich and Central Suffolk MP Dr Dan Poulter has two closure-threatened homes in his constituency, Paddock House at Eye and Lehmann House at Wickham Market, and has been leading calls for a re-think on closure threats.

He said: “If the county is offering more support to these homes it is fantastic news. It is what we have been calling for.

“It shows that the county council has continued to listen to the concerns of the people of Suffolk and the concerns of the professionals who work in these homes.”

Should the county continue to run care homes? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN or e-mail

The care homes that had been under threat:

Lehmann House, Wickham Market.

Ixworth Court, Ixworth.

The Dell, Beccles.

Wade House, Stowmarket.

Davers Court, Bury St Edmunds.

Paddock House, Eye.