Union slams care home ‘scandal’

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AN ANGRY union has branded Notts County Council’s decision to sell six care homes, including one in Hucknall, for just £2.5 million, a “massive scandal”.

Now the public service union, Unison, is calling on the government to take action and intervene in the deal.

The controversy surrounds the transfer of the homes to private company Runwood Hare. Among the sites is the Jubilee Court venue off Nabbs Lane, which cost more than £2.5 million to build in itself.

Unison maintains that the homes have been independently valued at £18.65 million and that the council, and local taxpayers, are losing out.

The union has now written to Eric Pickles (Con), the Secretary of State for Local Government.

Mike Scott, Nottinghamshire’s Unison branch organiser, said: “Council taxpayers’ money is being thrown away to the benefit of a private company.

“All of these homes have been recently built or refurbished at considerable cost and it is outrageous that public assets can be sold off for such a knockdown price.”

But the county council maintains that the reason for the price is that it attached several strict conditions to the deal with Runwood, including ensuring existing staff would keep their jobs.

Coun Kevin Rostance (Con), of Hucknall, who is the county council’s lead member for adult social care and health, said: “We believe the questions Unison has raised were dealt with adequately through the council’s decision-making process.

“We are preparing a letter to the Secretary of State to furnish him with the information he may need to consider when preparing his response.

“The sale price of £2.5 million is based on an independent valuation. It is reflective of current market conditions and the fact that the care homes are being transferred with a number of conditions which protect our existing residents and employees.

“The county council took independent financial and legal advice, and we are satisfied that the issues being raised by Unison are either incorrect or unfounded.

“If Unison had approached us directly with its concerns, we would have been happy to share this information.”