By Oliver Florence
Concerned residents, relatives and staff have united in a campaign to secure the future of three Elmbridge care homes.
Around 40 people packed into the hall at St Peter’s Church, West Molesey last week to demand Surrey County Council (SCC) take over the ownership and running of Langdown and The Summers in Molesey and Rodney House in Walton.
The three homes, which house 76 residents with learning or physical disabilities, were on the verge of being sold to a private company earlier this year, before the sale fell through.
Campaigners fear for the future if a buyer cannot be found. They are calling on SCC, who employ the homes’ staff, to take over ownership from the Kingston & Wimbledon YMCA.
Chairman of the Elmbridge Care Homes Campaign Paul Couchman has written to the leader of SCC to argue the case.
The branch secretary of the public service union UNISON said: “At this stage in the life of the three homes, after living with uncertainty for so long, the campaign committee believes strongly that the only immediate way forward is for SCC to compulsorily purchase the three properties and start to look seriously at the provision of residential care.
“The three care homes are a well-loved part of the local communities of Walton and Molesey.”
George, a resident at The Summers, said: “These are our homes and we want to stay here. We love our homes, please help us stay here. Surrey should take them over.”
The campaign suggests that due to the planned sale of the homes, SCC has not been filling beds or staff vacancies at the homes but are still paying the YMCA around £100,000 a month for empty beds.
Mr Couchman added: “This is clearly not best value, nor a fiscally competent use of council tax payers’ money.”
The campaign group has set up a website and online petition at www.ourhomesoursay.org.uk.
In a short statement an SCC spokesman said: “We are working closely with Kingston & Wimbledon YMCA to try to resolve the situation.”
Andy Winter from the YMCA said his organisation had not been invited to the meeting.
He added: “We remain committed to the provision of the current services whilst continuing to work closely with Surrey County Council on the future