The fate of two Eastbourne care homes was debated at County Hall today (Tuesday) after thousands of people signed a petition to save them.
Milton Grange and Firwood House face closure in plans put forward by East Sussex County Council in a bid to make savings.
The news, announced earlier this year, sparked a public outcry and just under 10,000 people have signed an online petition set up by local resident Maria Galt in opposition to the proposals.
The Eastbourne MP Stephen Lloyd joined the debate today at the county council’s base in Lewes, arguing to save the public services.
Speaking on behalf of the petitioners, he said, “The outstanding service provided by both Milton Grange and Firwood House benefits not just the residents of Eastbourne and Willingdon but people from across the county.
“At a time when our NHS is so over-stretched it is nonsensical to close services which help to alleviate some of the pressure on our hospitals and GPs.
“I ask that the Conservative-cabinet think again, particularly Eastbourne’s two influential Conservative county councillors, David Elkin and Colin Belsey, and to stand up for these outstanding, local dementia and rehabilitation services rather than choosing to close them.”
While Colin Swansborough, councillor for Hampden Park, where Firwood House is, called on Conservative county councillors to resign if they disagreed with cuts to public services.
He said, “It’s bonkers to cut these excellent services and if the Tory Government won’t listen, as the Conservative County group keeps claiming, then I demand that ESCC’s cabinet stand shoulder to shoulder with our County, its residents and resign in protest.
“I’m quite sure that will force Theresa May and her colleagues in Whitehall to listen!”
John Ungar, county councillor for Old Town, where Milton Grange is, added his opposition to the proposals.
He said, “All we’ve had from the County Council are threats of cuts to important services but there has been no proper suggestion of what will replace them – this I think is because there is no thought-through alternative!
“Which is why the Conservative-led County Council must put aside party politics and implement the fully-costed alternative budget provided by the Lib Dem Group.
“This would protect Milton Grange, Firwood House and all the other key local services facing such draconian cuts by County Hall.”
At the meeting a Conservative motion was passed where the council welcomed all views and said the petition would be taken into account when the cabinet considers the outcome of the consultation and impact assessment on all the services.
The final decision will take place on June 26 when the council said Cabinet would take a ‘fair and transparent’ approach to the difficult choices faced by the county council.