Council consider saving Cotmanhay care home after community campaign

Derbyshire County Council are to reconsider plans to close Hazelwood Home for Older People due to public opposition.
Derbyshire County Council are to reconsider plans to close Hazelwood Home for Older People due to public opposition.

Derbyshire County Council is to consider new proposals to keep a Cotmanhay care home open after a campaign against its closure by residents, families and staff.

Having considered the level of community opposition, the cabinet will now explore alternatives when they meet on Thursday, February 22.

Campaigners put their case before a council meeting at County Hall in Decemeber.

Campaigners put their case before a council meeting at County Hall in Decemeber.

Councillor Jean Wharmby, cabinet member for adult care, said: “I’m aware of the strength of feeling within the community to the proposal to close Hazelwood.

“We listened carefully to what people told us which is why we are now recommending that the home remains open while we look in to building a new one in the area.”

The cabinet will also be asked to agree that essential work is carried out to ensure Hazelwood remains safe while other options are investigated, and that further public consultation will take place if and when a new site is found.

Coun Wharmby said: “The quality of care offered at Hazelwood has never been in doubt but significant repairs and refurbishments are needed to bring it up to a standard people expect and deserve.

Street stalls in Ilkeston town centre were vital to building public support against the council.

Street stalls in Ilkeston town centre were vital to building public support against the council.

“If we are successful in finding an alternative site, no decisions will be made without consulting residents.”

The 30-bed facilitiy was built in 1972 and is currently home to 21 people.

Original estimates costed necessary repairs to the home at almost £1.7million, plus £489,000 in lost income during the two year project.

Given the council’s total budget of £4m for repairs to all its 22 care homes, it raised the question of whether spending so much in one place was an effective use of public money.

Following representations from campaigners, the council asked independent experts for a second opinion which found the cost of extending the home’s life could top £3m.

However, remedial work costing around £50,000 could be carried out to ensure the building is safe for the time being, including bracing the roof and replacing fire alarms and a kitchen extractor.

Erewash MP Maggie Throup welcomed the announcement after taking up the residents’ case with the government and senior council figures.

She said “This is first and foremost a victory for our community. Hazelwood should not close under any circumstance as it provides a vital service to Contmanhay.

“I would like to congratulate the local campaigners who took on this fight, as well as the county council who have once again listened to the public and made the right decision by them.”

The council Labour group also greeted the decision, but sounded a word of warning after the council announced plans for a £490,000 cut in buildings maintenance in 2018-19.

Councillor Christine Dale said: “Finally the residents, family and friends of Hazelwood have been listened to. All credit to them for the magnificent campaign they ran to keep Hazelwood open.

“Unfortunately there is still a big question mark over the future of the rest of the council’s homes because last week’s budget contained plans to reduce maintenance and let the homes deteriorate. We still have no indication of what the Conservative strategy for residential care is.”