CAMPAIGNERS against the closure of Girtrell Court respite centre have accused Wirral Council of misrepresenting the position of parents and carers.

The Saughall Massie home is to shut down in November and services will transfer to a new purpose-built, privately-operated facility in Tollemache Road, Birkenhead, run by Sanctuary Housing.

The closure announcement came last week at the end of a long battle to save the Saughall Massie centre.

In an email to ward councillor Chris Blakeley, the council’s chief executive Eric Robinson said the move had been made “in partnership with carers.”

It went on: “The decision to have the new service in place in November was taken with them in the knowledge that this would lead to the building at Girtrell no longer being required.

“Councillor Chris Jones [cabinet member for adult social services] and the director of adult social services have of course formally progressed the decision in line with the council constitution, but in the full knowledge that this was an option supported by carer representatives.”

That now has been disputed by campaign group Supporters of Girtrell Court who accused the authority of railroading the closure against the wishes of those who use the home.

Wirral Globe:

Protestors outside Wallasey town hall earlier this year

They have called for Mr Robinson to retract his statement and “apologise for distress caused.”

In an email to the chief executive, the group wrote: “Your response is a clear misrepresentation of the position and of the involvement of parents and carers since it clearly indicates that users of the current service are content and have willingly collaborated with the council and its officers in agreeing the privatisation and closure of Girtrell.

“Not one of the current users of Girtrell Court wish to see the current service closed and privatised.

“Parents and carers have not consented to, colluded with or supported the council voluntarily, but continue to oppose the closure of Girtrell Court.

“Our motivation has been and remains solely to ensure our loved ones - on whom this change is being forced by an uncaring council - end up with the least worst of the proposed replacements.

“Never has the term ‘making the best of a bad job’ been more appropriate.”

Director of adult social care Graham Hodkinson said: “People who campaigned to keep Girtrell Court open will have their own views.

“However we have been working with - and continue to be very keen to seek the views of - carers on potential new services before commissioning them as an alternative to Girtrell Court.

“I am very hopeful that once the new service is up and running alongside a range of other respite services that we have commissioned to offer more choice, we can move forward together positively.

“We said that everyone in Wirral who needed respite care would continue to get it - and we said we would increase choice and we have kept our promises.

“We will be delivering a better, more modern and flexible range of services for every person and family who needs respite care in Wirral.”

Councillor Blakeley said: "When I asked the chief executive to provide the names of the formal decision-makers I was astounded that he answered that the closure of Girtrell Court was taken in partnership with carers.

“Clearly the carers could not be formal, or in fact informal, decision-makers as there is no facility in the council constitution for that to happen.

“The only formal decision-makers in closing this much-loved and much-needed facility can be the council - and we know the Labour administration delegated that decision to the cabinet member and the director to be made behind closed doors.

“It would appear the council are now desperately trying to hide behind the carers and put a positive spin on their mishandling of this whole affair.

“That is the very reason why we have consistently called for this matter to be dealt with in an open and transparent manner.”