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Closed Leek care home rooms up for rent

By Leek Post and Times  |  Posted: February 12, 2014

By Leslie Jackson

  • The former Springhill residential care home, which has been advertised to rent as flats

  • Kniveden Hall which closed five years ago, but no steps have been taken to develop the site by Staffordshire County Council

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A RESIDENTIAL care home closed just weeks ago is being advertised as rooms for rent.

The Post & Times can reveal Springhill Residential Care Home at The Mount, Leek, is being marketed on the Rightmove property website as a nine-bedroom house share for rent, with rooms at £220 a calendar month each

The site has already been earmarked for redevelopment as a centre for dementia care.

Now Leek South county councillor Charlotte Atkins has called the decision to let it out as "outrageous".

However, owner of the site, Staffordshire County Council, has stated the move is intended to preserve the building and save on security costs.

Ms Atkins said: "We were told the building was not fit for purpose, then within weeks the premises are advertised for rent.

"This is a cynical disregard for the vulnerable people who have been turfed out of their home for the county council to rent it out."

The unfurnished property is being advertised as having central heating, double glazing, parking and a garden. The particulars state: "Would you like to enjoy generous living space on flexible terms with all bills included?

"Become a property guardian to enjoy these benefits. You must be working, aged 21 and over, no children or pets, and of good character."

When asked why it closed down the home and within weeks offered it as flats, the county council said it will not be receiving any extra income from the arrangement.

A spokesman stressed that Springhill was vacant as a result of changes in the way that services are provided, and the last resident left at the end of 2013 as part of long-standing plans.

It is understood similar arrangements are already in place at the adjacent Kniveden Hall site which was closed by the county in 2008.

Ian Parry, Staffordshire County Council's deputy leader and cabinet member for finance, resources and transformation, said: "When a building is no longer in use we do occasionally, via a management company, allow people to live on the site as a temporary security measure until the future of the site is decided."

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"This is not only helps to stop the building falling into disrepair, but is a more community-friendly and cost-effective way to protect the site from vandalism than hiring security teams to patrol the site.

"The county council receives absolutely no income from these arrangements and there has been no investment, nor will there be, in the former site of Springhill."

However, leader of Staffordshire Moorlands District Council, Sybil Ralphs, pointed out that the site was earmarked for a dementia unit.

She said: "A dementia unit is much needed for the people of Leek and the Staffordshire Moorlands. I signed a partnership agreement with the county council three years ago to develop this site to become the first centre of excellence in the county.

"To have people living on site for security reasons will bring in revenue and safeguard the site from vandals.

"These, however, would have to be short-term contracts because we require these much needed facilities, which must go ahead as soon as possible."

Ms Atkins added: "It seems the county is rushing to outsource every service it has. We have seen cuts to day centres, Moorlands Day Service and nurseries, and now youth clubs and libraries are all facing cuts.

"The council is slashing and cutting services at great speed. I am shocked what they are doing. They seen to think volunteer groups will pick up the services."

The county council said as the arrangement to allow people to live on site was a temporary security measure, and as it was not private rental accommodation, it did not need planning permission for a change of use.

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