The Socialist 11 August 2009
Jobs & services - not bankersí bonuses!
Surrey council must buy back these homes now!
The above headline was the unanimous message from the 40 plus people who attended a public meeting on 5 August. The meeting was called by the Elmbridge Care Homes Campaign to defend The Summers and Langdown in Molesey and Rodney House in Walton. Residents, their relatives, staff from the homes and members of the public gathered to hear about the campaign.
These three care homes are owned by the Kingston and Wimbledon YMCA, who have decided to sell them off. A previous attempt to sell them fell through earlier this year.
The campaign has been told that a new buyer is now interested in the two Molesey homes but not Rodney House, which will have to be sold separately.
Paul Couchman, chair of the campaign and branch secretary of Surrey County Unison, the trade union which represents workers at the three homes, said at the meeting: "We are told that the homes have to go 'on the market'. These are people's homes, their lives - not pieces of meat or pairs of socks."
He also gave examples of how the private sector puts profits above care quality and how some private companies have slashed wages and terms and conditions of workers after they have been transferred from the public sector.
The meeting also heard from Sandra Ayliffe, Unison rep at The Summers, who gave a personal account of what life has been like for staff and residents during all the uncertainty about the future.
Katie Foster-Holt, a resident at the Summers for many years, heaped praise on the "care and dedication" of staff and told the meeting how worried she was about the future of her home.
Surrey County Council (SCC) still employ the staff in the homes but have not recruited any new staff for nearly two years. SCC have also stopped placing people in the homes, leading to the ridiculous situation where 20 beds are vacant at The Summers, costing the council £100,000 a month.
The meeting voted unanimously to organise a lobby of the council on 13 October from 12-2pm at County Hall in Kingston. For more information or to sign a petition, go to www.ourhomesoursay.org.uk.
In this issue
International socialist news
Marxist analysis: history
Socialist Party youth and students
International socialist news and analysis
Workplace news and analysis
Labour history comment