Dozens of care staff attend anti-cuts meet

DOZENS of worried members of staff joined councillors and union representatives at a meeting opposoing the proposed closure of a nursing home and changes two day care centres.

More than 30 staff from Mount Denys Care Home on The Ridge and the adjacent Pinehill Centre attended the GMB organised meeting at the Ore Community Centre on Monday night (AUG 19).

The centres, along with Isabel Blackman Centre in the Old Town, are being scrutinised as part of a move by the county council to save £27.8 million from adult social care.

A four month consultation period has been under way since early July relating to whether Mount Denys should be closed.

A review of Pine Hill and the IB Centre will conclude in December whether to develop, close down or leave them as they are being run.

Other day care centres are also being reviewed in Bexhill, Lewes, Crowbrough and Hailsham.

County councillor Michael Wincott who represents Baird ward where Mount Denys and Pinehill are based, attended the meeting along with councillors Trevor Webb, Mike Turner, Warren Davies, Nigel Sinden and prospective Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen.

Cllr Wincott said: “Throughout the whole meeting there was hardly any mention of what staff will do about their jobs. The main concern was for the future of the clients. These are decision being taken in Lewes by people living miles away who aren’t affected by these front line closures. We won’t stand for the vulnerable and needy being targeted. In terms of jobs, most of these staff left the private sector to come to the public sector not only for due to better working conditions but also because the council doesn’t seek to make a profit. Now they are faced with no jobs as there are very few left in the private. This is a major issue affecting a lot of people and we want cabinet in Lewes to hear their voices.”

A public meeting is being planned next month at the same venue.

Ms Owen, who is planning to start a postcard petition, said: “Staff are rightly concerned about the changes. None of them raised concerns about their own jobs during the entire meeting, their number one priority was for their patients. Again, Hastings is being hit worse for these cuts than any where else in the county - I have more and more people contacting me who are unable to cope with the cuts to social care and this can not continue.” Rachel Verdin, GMB Organiser, said “These centres must be fought for.”