Beechgrove House proposed closure update

Campaigners battling to save Perth’s Beechgrove Care Home were jubilant last night after the centre won a reprieve – at least for the moment. A recommendation to close the Perth and Kinross Council home — and potentially save the authority £528,000 — was considered at a meeting in the town on Friday.

However, members of the Perth and Kinross integration joint board were unable to reach a decision on the move and voted to defer it to their next meeting in March. The breathing space was welcomed by campaigner Sheila Harris, whose mother-in-law 95-year-old Betty Harris is one of  Beechgrove’s current 13 residents.

She said: “I am really pleased the councillors have listened and questioned this as the best money saving option.”

Diane Fraser, the council’s head of adult social work and social care, told Friday’s meeting the closure option would not only produce savings but would help the authority to develop better community-based services. She said she recognised it had been a difficult period for the 37 staff at Beechgrove but insisted everything would be done to redeploy them if the closure went ahead, and she moved to allay concerns raised during consultation, saying there appeared to be sufficient capacity for care home placements elsewhere.

Board members were told the recommendation was “explicitly” about saving money and although it was a difficult decision, closure could pave the way for spending elsewhere.

SNP councillor Eric Drysdale said that in the absence of good reasons, such as a “financial imperative or building safety issue”, he was “fundamentally opposed” to the proposal. He added that he believed that the council had entered into a “lifetime contract” with the residents.

“I have significant concerns that we have not listened to the past and placed higher and higher reliance on the private sector,”  he said.

Mr Drysdale said members were being asked to agree to the move without full knowledge of forthcoming Scottish Government and council budgets, and moved to defer the decision until more information was available. “I remain unconvinced that this is the best way to save £500,000,” he added.

Independent councillor Xander McDade and Conservative councillor Crawford Reid spoke in his support and a vote tied with four each.

Board chairwoman Linda Dunion, who had moved approval of the closure, said she did not have a casting vote so the matter would be deferred until their next meeting on March 23.