Edinburgh care homes: Campaign to save them from closure may come down to party politics – Steve Cardownie

The campaign against the proposed closure of five city care homes is hotting up with Edinburgh Labour’s local government committee (LGC) now entering the fray.

By Steve Cardownie
Tuesday, 17th August 2021, 4:45 pm
Drumbrae care home, seen with residents taking part in a Clap for Carers in April last year, could be closed and turned into a complex clinical care facility (Picture: Andrew O'Brien)
Drumbrae care home, seen with residents taking part in a Clap for Carers in April last year, could be closed and turned into a complex clinical care facility (Picture: Andrew O'Brien)

It has unanimously backed a motion from Unison to save the homes and ensure the continuation of public provision of residential care. A decision on their fate is expected to be taken by the Edinburgh Joint Integration Board, which oversees health and social care, next month, but Labour’s LGC has called for a delay of a minimum of three months in order that alternative proposals can be considered.

The LGC’s stance on this issue will exert pressure on Labour councillors to oppose the closures and, if they do, this will, in turn, also exert pressure on SNP councillors to follow suit.

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An impact analysis report will be made available at September’s Joint Board meeting but, no matter what it says, the writing on the wall is that party politics will influence the final decision.

No party wants to be on the wrong side of the argument and, as re-election is the goal, councillors would normally shy away from controversial decisions this close to council elections – for fear of them coming back to haunt them at the polls.

The proposed closure of care homes, like schools, generates a huge amount of emotional backlash which garners a great deal of public support and cannot be ignored.

Local government history is littered with examples of difficult decisions being deferred for an incoming administration to deal with or popular political choices being made with elections in mind and this issue bears all the hallmarks of falling into the same category.

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