Protest held over proposals to close centres

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PROTESTORS demonstrated in the town centre last Thursday (September 5) against the proposed closure of a nursing home and changes to two day-care centres.

Mount Denys Care Home, on The Ridge, the adjacent Pinehill Centre, and the Isabel Blackman Centre in Winding Street in the Old Town, are currently being scrutinised as part of a move by East Sussex County Council (ESCC) to save £27.8 million from adult social care.

Cllr Michael Wincott and Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen with campaigners who want to save the Isabel Blackman Centre, Pine Hill and Mount Denys from closure

Cllr Michael Wincott and Labour parliamentary candidate Sarah Owen with campaigners who want to save the Isabel Blackman Centre, Pine Hill and Mount Denys from closure

A four-month consultation period started in early July relating to whether Mount Denys should be closed or remain open.

A review of Pinehill and the Isabel Blackman Centre will conclude in December on whether to develop, close down or leave them as they are.

The county council’s proposals have attracted angry opposition from many residents.

Protestors last Thursday set up a campaign stall between Costa Coffee and Caffe Nero.

Sarah Owen, Labour’s parliamentary candidate for Hastings and Rye, who was at the event, said: “Hundreds of people we spoke to knew someone who has received care at one of our threatened care centres. The residents of Hastings are fiercely opposed to these county proposals, which was more than demonstrated by the number of people taking handfuls upon handfuls of our protest postcards to give to friends, neighbours and colleagues. These ridiculous proposals must be rejected and the decision-makers in Lewes must back down.”

County councillor Michael Wincott, who represents the area where Pinehill and Mount Denys are based, said: “Lots of people told us that they were shocked when they read about the proposals in the Observer.

“They, like me, cannot understand why the county council cabinet would seek to walk away from providing these centres. Let me be clear, private profit should have absolutely no place in adult social care. I am 100 per cent against any closure or privatisation of these services.”

Cllr Mike Turner, who represents the borough council on the East Sussex Health and Wellbeing Board, said he was angry as several board members, such as Cllr Bill Bentley, the county council’s lead member for adult social care, and Keith Hinkley, director of adult social care, were behind the current proposals for Mount Denys, Pinehill and the Isabel Blackman Centre.

He said: “Decisions are being taken by people who do not even reside in Hastings. The Health and Wellbeing Board’s responsibility is to direct funding to those with high health inequalities.

“I acknowledge that central Government has cut its funding for adult social care but I think there are other areas savings can be made in.

“These centres serve the most deprived borough in the county.”