THE niece of a 97-year-old woman in a care home that is set to close has accused Nottingham City Council of failing to put people first.
Speaking at a public meeting, Norma Keeton, of Bobbers Mill, said she had fully expected that her aunt, Rose Ball, would end her days at the council-run Marlstones Home on Aldgate Close, Bulwell.
“My aunt loves it there and the staff are fantastic,” said Norma. “The thought of telling her that she will have to move somewhere else keeps me awake at night.”
Norma said Rose was born in Bulwell at the start of the First World War and worked all her life. She lost her husband in the Second World War after only nine months of married life.
“My aunt deserves better than to be treated like this,” Norma added. “I am devastated and I feel quite emotional about it.”
About 40 people attended the meeting, held at St John’s Church, Bulwell, and expressed strong opposition to the closure decision,
Thirty-eight pensioners living at Marlstones willl have to move out, and a day centre there will also shut down. The council says the decision will mean a saving of £200,000 a year in running costs in its attempt to offset severe funding cuts from central government.
But Adrian Picton, of the Nottingham city branch of the UNISON union, told the meeting: “I just can’t bear the thought that Marlstones will close.”
As a social worker for 18 years, he was aware that moving home was “very stressful” for elderly people, causing them “a lot of distress”.
He added: “Residents will be moved to private homes, where standards vary a great deal.”
“Marlstones is a valuable resource which we can’t afford to lose,” said Mr Picton.
The vicar of St John’s, the Rev David Gray, said the closure of Marlstones would take away hope which was vital to the future of a community.
He added: “Prime Minister David Cameron needs to hear about our struggle to keep the home open. It is not too late to save Marlstones, and it is worth digging our heels in.”
Council corporate director John Kelly said: “I don’t know anyone inside the council who wants Marlstones to close.
“On a visit to the home, I was incredibly impressed with the high standard of care.
“But the annual cost of maintaining the home and a need for improvements there must be taken into account in the face of the major cuts which the council is having to make.”
Coun Jackie Morris, a Labour member for Bulwell ward on the council, told the protesters: “My heart goes out to you.”
“But since I was elected to the council last year, I have become aware of how its finances work.
“The bottom line is that there is no money.
“We have sat for hour after hour trying to think of ways to make our finances stretch and stretch.”