Friends will fight Hillcrest closure plans

Hillcrest Care Home in Girvan
Hillcrest Care Home in Girvan

Despite a long hard fight by residents and staff to keep it open Hillcrest Care Home in Girvan will now be sold into the private sector.

That was the verdict of Friends of Hillcrest group chairman Denis Reid in response to reports in the local press that leaked documents on proposed major cuts showed council plans to sell the home and close schools, libraries and swimming pools around the area.

The documents refer to plans to close Carrick Academy and six primary schools, Maybole swimming pool and libraries throughout South Ayrshire.

In a letter to the Carrick Gazette this week Denis Reid of Friends of Hillcrest said: “I was abhorred to read the article on the leaked document on proposed major cost cuts by South Ayrshire Council one of which includes either the closure or sale to the private sector of Hillcrest Care Home which we in Girvan recently saved after a long hard fight which placed great strain on residents and staff.

“So much for council promises which appear to be short lived!

“It appears clear to me that in the case of Hillcrest the leaked document is  completely accurate and I think the angle on Hillcrest has been in the process of discussion and planning for some time.

“Recently the Council have spent a great deal of money on re-roofing, carpets furnishings and other improvements to the structure and also a full staffing compliment which had I been lulled into a false sense of security I would normally have welcomed.

“However when the demolition of McConnel Square properties has been delayed with very poor excuses and then the council leaked document comes to light the picture appears to be clear.”

“I don’t believe the council has any intention of demolishing McConnel square.

“The reason for that is also clear.

“During our fight to save Hillcrest their officials raised the issue of financial viability suggesting that with the current number of beds it has Hillcrest costs more to run than it generates in income.

“These same officials I have no doubt have looked at that in their cost cutting proposals and have suggested that if the council can sell Hillcrest and McConnel Square to an enterprising developer in the private sector and that developer converts the houses in McConnel Square to additional care home facilities as part of the Hillcrest complex then the whole unit can be offered as a financially viable home!

“Friends of Hillcrest intend to fight any such proposals to the last to defend this outstanding facility, our residents and the wonderful staff who maintain such high standards in the eyes of the Care Commission.”

Independent Girvan Councillor Alec Clark said: “I will always be prepared to be a the forefront of protecting this important facility which is home for some of our aged and vulnerable folk who deserve to be stress free in the knowledge that there will be no threat to their way of life and the most caring staff who look after them.”

Eileen Howat, chief executive of South Ayrshire Council said: “In line with all Scottish local authorities we know that we will have a funding gap over the next few years and will have to plan accordingly to ensure we make the best us of our resources.

“Following approval earlier this year, we now have a robust five-year Financial Strategy in place, but we do expect to have to save £20 million over the next five years and that won’t be easy.

“No decision has yet been taken about the future savings required by the council. Officers are currently working on a wide variety of options and proposals that will be considered by elected members before going out to staff, stakeholders and the general public for consultation.

“We plan our budget well in advance and invest our financial resources in the strategic priorities of the economy, children and families, adults and older people, to reflect the needs of the people of South Ayrshire.”