Westminster House Might Not Be The Councils To Give Away (Podcast) (updated)

Mencap say IWC can’t simply reassign their respite care centre.

At a public meeting earlier today Chief Exec, Steve Beynon and Cllr David Pugh from the Isle of Wight Council (IWC) answered questions from stakeholders who will be affected by the massive budget cuts proposed by the IWC to the voluntary sector (read our live coverage).

Westminster House Might Not Be The Councils To Give Away (Podcast)One of the council’s proposals is to stop Westminster House being a respite centre and change it into an old people’s home.

It appears from discussions with Rosemary Marsh from Isle of Wight Mencap that this might not be within the council’s ability to do.

Bought by Mencap, gifted to IWC
Rosemary told us that twenty five years ago, Mencap bought Westminster House in Newport and gifted it to the IWC.

It was on the condition that the building be used for respite care for people with learning disabilities.

With the latest round of budget cuts, the IWC are proposing to close Westminster House as a respite care centre and use it as care home for the elderly instead.

The respite care would be moved out to Freshwater. As Rosemary says, far more difficult for the families to get to.

Total lack of consultation and courtesy
This, according to Rosemary, was proposed with absolutely no consultation whatsoever.

Those working at Westminster House first learnt the news when reading VB’s coverage of the Overview and Scrutiny Committee meeting that took place on Monday night.

As Rosemary says, at the very least it is the height of discourtesy and other other end, it might be breach of contract.

Steve Beynon to check contracts
When Rosemary raised this at this afternoon’s meeting, Steve Beynon said he wasn’t aware of this and when he returned to the council offices, he would check on this.

Hear what else Rosemary has to say by clicking on the play button below.


Update 9th February: It was confirmed in the Cabinet meeting that Westminster House will continue to operate normally until the Full Council. It was stated that the Isle of Wight Council owns the building and there are no covenants restricting the sale of the building.

Update 10th February: Rosemary has been in touch and confirms there was no contract. She tells us that IW Mencap built Westminster House on Council land, then handed it over to them, on a handshake agreement that it would be used in perpetuity for respite for learning disability.

Friday, 5th February, 2010 5:35pm


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17 Comments on "Westminster House Might Not Be The Councils To Give Away (Podcast) (updated)"

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S Brown

Good Bye Steve. A Red Jet ticket costs £8.30.

Cllr Geoff Lumley (Labour)
Sorry Simon, and I may be wrong, but I believe they actually intend to close Westminster House and transfer the service they provide to the over-subscribed Adelaide in Ryde and the Gouldings in Freshwater – both resource centres primarily devoted to respite care for older people. In which case Westminster House would no longer be required by the Council. Whatever, the alternative budget I am currently working… Read more »
B Roberts
Double blow for IW Mencap made by the IW Council, what a kick in the teeth, firstly the cut backs in the contract to Haylands Farm, a centre for people with a learning disability which is run by IW Mencap and now Westminister House, what next!!!! If i was IW Mencap i would be spitting blood right now. The treatment by the IW Council made towards such… Read more »
I remember that something like this was considered when Newport CE Primary was built next to Westminster House in the 1980’s, on road safety grounds and the advice to the Council, then, was that Westminster House could not be closed due to covenants (always a loose term) in the original construction agreements. My memory is that closure of that actual building would have been very difficult and… Read more »

L.Pinkerton, what else do you remember? Last night David Pugh said that there were no covenants on Westminster House. Whilst I have no doubt that there are covenants, unless people can come forward with their memories and hopefully some paperwork the closure will go ahead. The vaults of property services are as well guarded as the vaults of the vatican, very few secrets get out.


Could try the HM Land Registry – Covernants are recorded. (Not sure if transfers 25 years ago would be required to be registered, but there may be a requirement for Public assets to be registered, or may have been registered when councils changed names etc.)

Couls also seek it via FOI request.

blog watcher

I think you’ll find that any covenant(s) run out March 2011 as workers have been told that nothing can happen until after that date. Therefore no savings during this budget.

charles cook

Why cant the council hand Westminster House back to mencap to run if it runs as a loss.

Hi Jackie, It’s a long time ago 1985/86 that the school was built, moved from West Street and Westminster House was already there. If not a covenant, there was a problem during the planning stage involving land ownership, access rights and providing a safe route to school from the South. This threatened to halt the project. My memory is that neiher the County or the Diocese owned… Read more »

Hi LP. Many thanks for this and also to BH. It is certainly somewhere to start.
The road you mention is still in dispute and I’ve never managed to get to the bottom of the ownership of the road.


If Rosemary Marsh is right,How embarrassing for Steve Beynon and David Pugh that they have to go back and check.They should already know that is what they are paid for.

The proposal to close Westminster House and pronounce the death of Haylands Farm by a thousand cuts is despicable. The adults supported by both are without doubt the most vulnerable in our community. The expression ‘kick in the teeth’ is perhaps over-used, but describes perfectly this terrible council action. Quite frankly people struggling to keep those with severe problems at home desperately need these places for respite… Read more »
charles cook

Find out more about Haylands Farm on haylandsfarm.demon.co.uk

John R

Re: Westminster House, I am informed that it does not run at a loss so what is the problem with keeping it open?

h baley

Great website, really shows what Haylands Farm is all about. What an invaluable place this is on the Island.