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Protest over cuts to Dearne services

Irene Jones, 81, who is a resident of Rowena House Care Home in Conisbrough.

Irene Jones, 81, who is a resident of Rowena House Care Home in Conisbrough.

Campaigners took to the streets to make their opposition known to Doncaster Council’s proposed axing of services in part of the Dearne.

About 60 residents waved “No Cuts” banners during an organised protest in Conisbrough at the council’s plans to:-

n Close Rowena House Care Home

n Close Conisbrough Social Education Centre

n Turn Conisbrough Library into a volunteer-led facility

Rowena House resident Irene Jones, 80, joined the protest and said: “Where am I going to go? I like it here, I feel free and safe. I really don’t want to go anywhere else.”

The authority is looking at axing the Old Road facility, which cares for 33 people with Alzheimer’s and dementia, as part of widespread cuts after being told by the Government to save £109 million.

The social enterprise centre, which provides day care for adults with a learning difficulties, could also go, while it is proposed to replace library staff with community volunteers.

But anti-cuts campaigners vowed to hold regular protests and public meetings in the hope of forcing council chiefs into a re-think.

Conisbrough resident Brian Kelly, 65, said: “I disagree entirely with the closure of Rowena House. We need it in our village. It is a big part of the community. I shall protest most strongly against the closure. Our old people need us try to prevent this. We will all be in the same position some day.”

David Jones, 60, of Chambers Avenue, Conisbrough, added: “Where will this end and how is it saving money? These people still need caring for somewhere.”

Conisbrough resident Wendy Collins said: “The protest was well supported by the local community, although no one represented the council at the rally, which disappointed many of us. Traffic came to a standstill as the afternoon progressed and even a local bus driver joined the protest by signing the petition, while passengers on the bus signed it too.”

The protest outside Rowena House on Saturday was organised by the Doncaster People’s Assembly.

The group is gathering names on a petition and planning to hold street protests outside under-threat facilities each week in the coming months.

Doncaster mayor Ros Jones announced plans for swingeing cuts in January to save millions of pounds over the next three years.

This includes the loss of about 1,200 council jobs, a phased closure of council-run care homes and four day centres and a move to transform eight libraries into volunteer-run facilities.

The authority is also set to scrap all of its £2.1 million funding for leisure centres, while council tax will rise by two per cent in each of the next three years and 70 per cent of the council’s 461 buildings will be reduced.

However, her proposals also include £339million worth of capital investment in the borough over the next three years, including £149million during 2014/15. This includes investment in education, housing, infrastructure, leisure and culture as well as boosting tourism and attracting investors.

Mayor Jones said: “I didn’t get into politics to close council run care homes and it is with reluctance that I have put forward this proposal. I totally understand that these plans will cause concern, particularly amongst care home residents and their family members.

“Unfortunately, however, the Government is cutting the council’s funding in half and we must save £109m over the next three years. In reality, the scale of these cuts means that they can’t be met without changing the way that front line services are provided.”

She added that 90 per cent of residents who receive residential care are in the independent sector and this will be expanded under the proposals.

Council chiefs will start consulting with affected families from February 11. It is expected a closure scheme would be phased in over two years.

The plans will still need to be approved by the council cabinet at a full council meeting on February 20.

A public meeting to discuss the plans will be held at Conisbrough Library on February 13 from 3.30pm to 5pm.

An organised protest is also set to take place at Doncaster’s Frenchgate Centre on February 27 at 7pm.

 

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