PRESSURE grew on councillors to reject plans to close a Wirral respite care centre during a second public meeting tonight.

Girtrell Court faces the axe as part of a £28m budget savings package that came before Wirral Council's ruling cabinet on Monday.

But its future hangs in the balance after councillors agreed no final decision will be made on the home's future until an ongoing consultation with families, staff and users has ended.

The decision will then made by Wirral's director of adult social care, Graham Hodkinson and Chris Jones, cabinet member for adult care and public health, at a date yet to be decided.

More than 50 people attended a public meeting at Saint Mary’s Church Centre in Saughall Massie tonight.

Organised by trade union Wirral Unison, it was a chance for residents, carers and staff to air views on the plan.

They were urged to lobby councillors during the budget council meeting next Thursday.

Addressing tonight's meeting Saughall Massie Conservative councillor Chris Blakeley said: “Girtrell Court needs to stay open as a respite centre.

"We mustn’t allow it to fall out of the public eye.

“The decision on its future has been extended for at least another three months.

"We mustn't allow this to be made under delegated powers.

“This is a huge decision with such a huge impact that it should not be made behind closed doors. It’s got to be made in the public domain.

“Most of the people in this room can’t vote for us, but we are supporting you in your campaign.

“I will table a notice of motion during next week's council meeting to keep Girtrell Court open.”

The centre caters for people with complex mental and physical disabilities.

Its threatened closure would save the authority an estimated £155,000.

The authority says the 120 families who use the facility could be catered for in the private sector.

But this is disputed by those whose relatives use the centre. They fear the standard of care would suffer if it was to close.

One member of the audience said: “None of us are going to entrust our loved ones to some tuppence ha’penny outfit that our council has found to look after our loved ones.

“We have no confidence in Graham Hodkinson with his track record of trashing day services. He’s doing the same with Girtrell Court.”

Peter Cowan, whose sister Barbara has been a resident for the last two years added: “Money can’t experience. If the staff are disbanded, they will never be replaced.”

David Jones from Wirral Unison said tonight: “One of the things about Girtrell Court is the continuity of staff that work there.

“You can’t say the quality of care will be the same if Girtrell Court is closed.

"Taking the decision out of public forum is a fundamental taking away of democracy.

"They probably hope it will take the heat away if it's done behind closed doors.

"But we're not going to let it go away."

  • Campaigners will be out and about at town centres across Wirral on Saturday collecting signatures in a last-ditch attempt to persuade councillors to vote against the closure plan during next Thursday's council meeting.

So far, more than 3,000 have signed a petition.