A GOVERNMENT minister is being asked to step in over the controversial closure of Girtrell Court respite care centre.

The Saughall Massie home - the last council-run facility of its kind - will shut down in November and services transferred to a new privately-operated facility in Tollemache Road, Birkenhead, run by Sanctuary Housing.

The move caused an outcry with 7,000 people signing a protest petition and demonstrations held outside Wallasey Town Hall.

Now Conservatives have written to David Mowat MP, parliamentary under-secretary of state at the Department for Health, asking him to intervene in the Labour-run council’s decision.

The group's letter says: "When Labour voted to close it... they promised to provide an alternative provision that would be ‘equal to or better’ than that provided at Girtrell Court.

"The 40 staff were also promised that they would be treated with dignity and respect and those who wanted to and who qualified could take early voluntary retirement .

"Subsequently the council has entered into an arrangement to provide an alternative respite unit in Birkenhead, a property which needs extensive refurbishment and alterations to be able to meet the needs of the users, which is unlikely to be ready before Girtrell Court closes.

"However even when ready the unit has only eight beds over two floors with wheelchair access availability restricted to two users at a time.

" Families and carers who have respite bookings at Girtrell Court which are supposed to transfer to the new facility are being cancelled because ‘there Is no room’.

"This is causing families of users - many of whom are elderly - lots of distress and concern and they feel very let down by this council who have simply reneged on their promises to them."

Among those who signed the letter is councillor Bruce Berry who told the Globe: “Hardly a week goes by without reports from users, their families and staff who are being kept in the dark and treated abysmally.

"Only today we have heard that bookings that have been made in the future are now being cancelled because the alternative provision in Tollemache Road is simply not big enough.

"We hope our request for Government intervention will do what Wirral Council is incapable of doing and give our residents some much-needed protection.”

A statement from the council said: "There are a number of inaccuracies in this letter.

"The new facility will offer ten beds in total, not eight, bookings will not be restricted to two wheelchair users at any one time and there is availability to provide for the respite needs of all those service users who indicated that they wanted this type of service.

"We are working alongside our partners in the sector to develop a first rate respite service at Tollemache Road, and we’re confident that the new purpose-designed service will be as good as, or even better than, what was previously provided.

"The new facility will be just one of a wide range of options available for those who need respite care, and no one will lose their service or face a gap in service.

"Girtrell Court was just one of a wide range of respite options available and many service users have already started to receive alternative services to meet their respite needs in a more flexible way.

"We will continue to work with staff, carers and families to ensure the process is as smooth as possible and that people continue to receive excellent services."

Girtrell Court closure row reignites with claims council 'misrepresented' carers - click here