Highland Council’s administration are coming under more pressure on their forthcoming U-turn on care homes. The Badenoch and Strathspey Herald reports:
“THE SNP opposition are calling for the chairwoman of Highland Council's social work committee to resign if plans to build five new care homes in the region are scrapped tomorrow (Thursday), as expected. They have said that Margaret Davidson (Independent) must be held to account for not one but two 360-degree turns on care home provision in the Highlands.” Full details on what the Highland Council opposition have to say on the matter here.
Perhaps more worrying for the Council ruling coalition will be the fact that over 800 marched in Fort William at the weekend on this issue and it looks like Charles Kennedy is rebelling against his Glenurquhart Road colleagues too, the P&J reported on Monday:
‘Giving a speech to the crowds, Mr Kennedy said: “This is not about opposing the private sector. What we’re saying is that, as a community, we should maintain a public sector provision which has been a mainstay over the years. “Commitments were made and financial arrangements were put in place. All we are asking is that they be stuck to.” More here.
A march is planned from the Northern Meeting Park tomorrow at 09.30 to reach the Highland Council HQ in time for the meeting that will decide the fate of the care homes proposal. It seems that the outcome is a foregone conclusion but if large numbers of protesters turn out tomorrow morning will the Administration hold the line without losing a few councillors who find themselves unable to square this with their consciences? Sometimes last minute lobbying can have an effect. In the meantime Lib Dem Councillor David Alston has come out fighting, attacking ‘scaremongering’ by campaigners:
“Mr Alston felt compelled to respond to speculation among some campaigners that existing care homes may close as a result of the review.
He said: “All councillors feel passionately about services for the elderly and every single one wants to do their best for the elderly in their communities.
“Any suggestion that a vote against building care homes shows a lack of compassion is a falsehood.
“A few misguided or misled campaigners have suggested we plan the immediate closure of the five existing homes. This is untrue. Scaremongering of this kind, which distresses residents and their families, is a callous manipulation of people who deserve our respect and require our support.” More here.
The scene looks set for an emotional event tomorrow morning and perhaps a wee taster of more similar protests to come in the future as the Highland Council gets down to making serious cuts in the budget.