Anger over council’s sale of homes for the elderly refuses to go away
Controversial sale – Dalreoch House, Langcraigs and Willox Park, all going together for less than £2 million and Crosslet House, which cost the Council £10 million plus. Pictures by Bill Heaney and Tom Gardiner
By Bill Heaney
Two former care homes and the site of a day care centre are set to be sold by West Dunbartonshire Council for almost £1 million.
But Langcraigs home in Dumbarton, which was sold off last year for less than the highest offer of £1.2 million because it would be quickly insured and secured and would save the Council money was still lying empty today.
Councillors at this week’s Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development Committee were told that buyers had been secured for Dalreoch House and Willox Park, both in Dumbarton, and the land which used to house the Auchentoshan Day Care Centre in Clydebank.
Turnberry Homes want to purchase Dalreoch, which has been uninhabited since June 2017 after residents moved to the new Crosslet House care home.
They will seek to build a traditional residential development made up of 18 two-storey homes on the land.
Willox Park Care Home was also earmarked as surplus and left empty when residents moved into Crosslet House last year.
The Council say new buyer, HB Villages, wants to build a specialised supported housing scheme in the area for adults with learning difficulties and physical disabilities.
The Council have not disclosed, however what will happen to the existing sheltered housing around Willox Park, which is in the Barloan district of the town.
A buyer has also been found for the land where the Auchentoshan Day Care centre stood off Mount Blow Road in Dalmuir. The centre had to be demolished after it was targeted by vandals when it closed in 2009. Now Sim Group intends to build a new care home on the 3.16 acre site.
The two care homes now being sold are in addition to the Langcraigs residential home and daycare centre at Gooseholm, Dumbarton, which was closed and sold off for less than £1 million.
Councillor Iain McLaren, Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, said: “It is great to see that these three sites, which were unused by the Council and were surplus to requirements, have the potential to be brought back to life again in ways that will improve the lives of our residents.”
However, Cllr McLaren had nothing to say, even when pressed, about the Langcraigs sale when The Democrat challenged him on the suitability of the new owners, whose track record in elderly care made frightening reading.
Cllr McLaren, pictured left, refused point blank to comment at the time – and he is now part of the ban and boycott of The Democrat by the SNP, Conservative, Independent coalition which runs the council.
Cllr Marie McNair, Vice Convener of Infrastructure, Regeneration and Economic Development, added: “Our officers have worked hard to market these sites, and it is pleasing that developers see so much potential in buying in West Dunbartonshire.”
Langcraigs old folk’s home off Townend Road in Dumbarton is still lying empty and has become a target for vandals and thieves who were spotted on the roof.
The Democrat asked at the time it was sold off if West Dunbartonshire Council and the Health and Social Care Partnership had done any research into the background of the care home company that has offered £1 million for it, but we didn’t get an answer.
Community Party councillor Jim Bollan, pictured right, said then: “Quite apart from the SNP Council passing up the opportunity to use this site to build council homes on, it is astonishing that the Health & Social Care Partnership quango have approved this company, Meallmore, as being fit a proper to take care of elderly residents.
“A look at their record in the care field is quite disturbing. A 91-year- old resident was attacked by another resident in a Meallmore home in Inverness, receiving nine injuries to their head.
“A 32-year-old with mental health issues lay dead for up to a week in their flat while being cared for by Meallmore care staff. A resident with Parkinson’s was humiliated and bullied by staff at a residential home in Aberdeen.
“How the H&SCP can approve this organisation to take care of some of our most vulnerable elderly resident’s beggars belief. This decision to sell this land to this company needs reviewed, before legal documents are signed.”
All three former care homes closed by the council have been replaced by Crosslet House, which is situated up in the hills behind the timber houses off the busy A82 Glasgow-Loch Lomondside road.
Cllr Bollan, who labelled the proposed £1 million sale of Langcraigs as “scandalous”, criticised the Council for centralising services, allowing the private care sector to move in and “make a profit from the care of our elderly”.
Council officers recommended approval of the Langcraigs sale. The reason given was that there is still a requirement for more care home beds locally, which begs the question why the Council did not take account of this when they built Crosslet House.
Cllr Bollan said: “This proposal by the health and social care partnership stinks to high heaven and lays bare the need for the two 90-bed care homes being built by the council.
“Once more people have been duped into believing the argument that big is better and the centralisation of care services for the elderly is good for them, only for it to be thrown back in their face by allowing the private care sector to take over Langcraigs and make a profit from the care of our elderly. Scandalous.”
The new, £10 million Crosslet House, which replaces Willox Park and Dalreoch House, boasts a modern cinema room, outdoor terrace, internet rooms, gardens, hair salon and nail bar, provides 84 beds for elderly residents, particularly those with dementia.
The council officials’ report to committee stated: “The health and social care partnership consider that there is sufficient demand in the area for a further care home, and of the three currently closing, Langcraigs presents the best opportunity to permit refurbishment and expansion.”
The council started marketing Langcraigs in March last year, setting a closing date in mid-June. Two offers were received and the £975,000 bid by Meallmore, who are proposing a 32-bed facility with single bed en-suite units, was identified as the preferred option.
The other bid was made by a residential developer for £1.02 million. The report says Meallmore’s terms were more agreeable due to an early entry date as the council remain liable for maintenance, security and insurance of the site as well as non-domestic rates while the building lies empty.”
Yesterday, however, Langcraigs, if you do the math, which was sold by the Council for £225,000 less than the highest offer, was still still lying empty, boarded up and vulnerable to thieves and vandals.
And there are plans for yet another care home for the elderly to be built at Garshake beside Baxter House, which is a special facility for vulnerable people.