John Aird House Still Faces Closure

Executive Committee Reject Overview Panels Recommendations and Remains Firm With Initial Decision

After what many people hoped would be a reprieve, the closure of John Aird House is still set to go ahead. The Council Executive Committee rejected recommendations by the Overview and Scrutiny Committee and reconfirmed their initial decision to shut the home down.

They also dismissed the option to allow the existing residents to remain whilst using any spare beds for respite care. Therefore, only the High Court can now save the residential home for elderly patients.

The residents' lawyer will now make a claim for compensation for each resident under articles 2 and 3 of the European Convention of Human Rights, concerning what she sees as a threat to their lives caused by the upset of a move.

Councillor Lal, a member of the Executive Committee stated �If at any stage the residents are deemed as not being able to move, by their GP or managers, then we will wait until they are fit enough. One of the underlying things is that on no account can this be rushed. We must act with compassion.'
He added the decision to close one home in the borough came after a Best Value Review of Older People's services highlighting a trend away from residential care to nursing home places.

The decision has caused uproar in the local Labour ranks, and created a split between the east and west ends, according to the Chair of the Isleworth ward, Vanessa Smith, who reportedly blasted her party's leadership as politically inept', and said the decision would take a large toll on the Labour group at the next elections. Mrs Smith and friend Pat Nicholas lost their seats at the last elections after losing votes to the ICG who were campaigning against the closure of the Isleworth Day Care Centre. The ICG are currently campaigning to save John Aird House, and Mrs Smith believes a repeat could happen.

She also criticised the Executive for being inexperienced - on the same day that it was revealed that lead members Parmod Kad (Best Value) and Ilyas Khwaja (Regeneration), announced they would step down from their roles.

Also publicly expressing outrage is Gareth Evans, a member of RAGE Hounslow, who has issued a formal complaint to Mr Michael Smith, Borough Solicitor, London Borough of Hounslow.

The basis of the complaint is that Mr Evans believes that the technical report into the structure of John Aird House presented to the Executive is fundamentally flawed. Furthermore Mr Evans believes that it is grossly negligent for lead officers of the council to present a report which misleads the Executive and councillors.

At a meeting of the Overview & Scrutiny committee - The Acting Director advised the Overview & Scrutiny committee that the technical review was based upon the Registered Homes Act 1984, while Jan Robson from Technical Services advised that the review her department carried out was against the Care Standards Act 2000.

Mr Evans stated "It is disgraceful that the Social Services can't even decide upon what which piece of legislation they are using to justify the closure of John Aird House. It is lunacy to expect councillors to decide upon the future of the elderly and frail residents of this care home when they are not given the full facts."

If Mr Michael Smith fails to address the complaint to the satisfaction of Mr Evans, Mr Evans intends to raise the matter with the Secretary of State through the Standards Board

May 19, 2003

Scrutiny Panel suggest compromise on John Aird House

Support escalates for threatened home for the elderly