THE future remains uncertain for Cheadle's care facilities, despite a pledge by Staffordshire County Council to provide the town with an extra care facility.
Gail Edwards and Neil Plant, from the county council's property team, visited Cheadle Town Council on Monday, September 16, to discuss the former care facility Lightwood Home, together with proposals for the Newlands and the Cheadle Day Care Centre in Charles Street.
The council was told that Lightwood was a part of a long term strategy developed in 2008 to bring Extra Care to Cheadle, including 60 to 90 separate apartments with their own front door, lounge and kitchen etc, which could also incorporate a Bistro, coffee shop, gym and hairdressers.
Members were told that the county council had "hung onto" Lightwood for this purpose and initial talks with developers were positive for the site.
But, a first procurement process failed to attract any bidders, so they entered into a second, and as recently as the previous week were still in talks.
A proposal was put to cabinet on Tuesday, September 24, to discuss property and assets, and members were told that if proposals were not accepted the county council's cabinet member for education, finance and transformation councillor Ian Parry would go to the open market, but they could look again at Cheadle together with the town council.
As far as Cheadle Day Centre was concerned, the county council has just completed a consultation with service users, carers and staff, of which 33 per cent responded, and there had been a drop of 42 per cent in attendance since 2012. The main problems seemed to be maintenance and heating.
Councillor Robbie Marshall will decide on the future of Cheadle Day Centre and nothing would be confirmed until the end of the month.
The Newlands is still operational and will be until 2014 and until all residents can be moved out.
Regarding Cheadle Day Care Centre in Charles Street, Cheadle town mayor councillor Ian Plant said: "When these questions were put to the county council representatives who visited the centre to tell us about the consultation they hadn't really got any answers regarding the money side of it and what else will be offered to these people if it closes.
"Why no money has been invested in the property no one knows, none of the facilities have been updated since the county council took it on.
"Regarding the points that there are no more people being taken on there, it's because no referrals are being made.
"I'm concerned about these properties being left with nothing done to them; Lightwood has been empty for nearly 10 years, we don't want that to happen to Charles Street and the Newlands. It alright moving people out of the Newlands, but what will happen to the site once they've gone."
Councillor Richard Alcock: "If developers aren't interested in Lightwood why would they be interested in any of the other sites? There's very little left in Cheadle."
Councillor Ron Locker added: "I take on board what's been said about Lightwood, but there's been a lot of dragging of feet.
"All we can see is our assets lying dormant doing noting; we've got all these empty properties in the town we represent and our town's people are thinking 'who is running these authorities'. We need to start making some demands.
"It doesn't seem like anyone is listening to us, there are all these closures, but nothing to replace them.
"We should be lobbying our cabinet members including county councillor's Mark Deaville and Mike Worthington to keep us informed for the people of Cheadle and also that staff members need to know what their future is.
"People are being distributed all over the place and uprooted, so anything we can do as a town council together with the help of the county council and our two county council representatives to keep the town informed should be done."
Councillor Stephen Ellis said he was heartened and disappointed. He added: "I'm pleased and grateful that Lightwood has not been sold and the county council kept hold of it.
"The site lends itself to extra care housing, given its proximity to services, but the issue is that developers aren't interested."
Councillor Ray Wood said: "We need to care more about our elderly and need to personalise things more. All the people have been dispersed and I feel like we let them down."
Following the meeting, Staffordshire County Council Cabinet Member for Education, Finance and Transformation councillor Ian Parry said: "One of our key priorities is to improve opportunities for people in the town and we are working closely with our partners to achieve this.
"We are keen to develop an Extra Care facility in the town and are exploring possible sites. Extra Care is a great housing option for older people and would be a multi-million development for Cheadle.
"There is a current alternative proposal for the Lightwood site which will be considered by the Council.
"We are also looking at alternative options to provide extra choice in day care opportunities in the town and have commissioned Approach and Moorlands Home Link who are providing these opportunities.
"We are exploring the future of The Newlands site once it is vacated and we will start to look at potential options during 2014."