Park House Future In The Hands Of Council Officers, Elected Members Told
Scilly’s Senior Officer For Community Services has said she will make the decision on the future of Park House, not elected members.
Aisling Hick was speaking at the recent Full Council meeting in response to a question from Cllr Gordon Bilsborough, who wanted a guarantee that the islands’ only care home would remain open, despite budget pressures on the Council.
Mrs Hick told councillors there was a “recruitment crisis” at the facility and if this couldn’t be overcome, “I, as a nominated individual, will make a decision about the ongoing viability of Park House.”
“I’m afraid that will not be a member decision,” she added. “It will be about the safety of care we provide to those residents.”
She also rebuked the Vice Chairman of Council, Cllr Steve Sims, for saying there was, “No appetite within the authority for closing Park House.”
Aisling said this was, “not actually helpful.”
Residents have expressed concern that closure of Park House, either because of financial constraints or operational issues, could lead to patients having to take up residential care on the mainland.
That was described last year as, “a death sentence” by former islands’ GP Dr Adrian Davis, who later resigned as a councillor.
The crisis at Park House was discussed by members as part of their annual budget setting review.
Members were told by Head of Finance Andy Brown that, unlike many local authorities in the UK, the money available to Scilly’s Council was actually increasing by 1.1%.
Even so, council tax is set to rise by 4.99%, including a 3% extra charge for social care. This is the maximum increase possible without a local referendum.
But a £455,000 hole in the budget means savings will still be required in order for the Council to balance the books.
Savings will include £200,000 on management of waste, £49,000 from reducing the frequency of waste collections and street sweeping and £20,000 from the Library and Learning budget.
Councillors also agreed to use money from the so-called ‘trading accounts’ – the airport, housing and water – to bolster their usable cash.
It means that not all the money raised by the those services will now go into their individual reserves – the reason previously given by councillors for raising airport and water fees above the rate of inflation.