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).
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.[audio:http://otw-audio.s3.amazonaws.com/rosemary-marsh-mencap.mp3]
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.