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court ref no: CO/3548/95 ...
court ref no: CO/3548/95

An Alzheimer's victim has launched a high court bid to stop Birmingham City Council closing her old person's home.

Lillian Greenwood, 78, claims through her daughter Pauline Perks that the council had already made up its mind to close the Bourn House home before consulting residents.

But the council insists it did everything by the book and that budgetary constraints left it with no choice but to sound the death knell for Bourn House and two other homes.

The council formally decided to close Bourn House in Selly Park on September 13 last year, along with the Frances Withers Home and The Cedars.

But Mrs Greenwood's counsel, Anthony Bradley, yesterday claimed that Bourn House's fate had in fact been sealed by the city council several months beforehand.

The council had acted with a 'closed mind', deciding that all three homes had to be closed before making any attempt to consult residents, he claimed.

Although the council has promised to keep Bourn House open until the outcome of Mrs Greenwood's judicial review challenge, the court heard resident numbers have fallen from 28 in August 1994 to just ten now.

Mr Bradley described Bourn House as a 'unique' establishment, providing a 'specialist regime for elderly people with severe Alzheimer's disease'.

Mrs Greenwood moved into the home in June 1994 after becoming 'progressively confused' living alone in a single bed council flat, the court heard.

Although she took time to settle in, she is now devoted to the home which provides a safe haven while not overly- restricting her freedom.

The city council's social services department say lack of central government funding left it with no choice but to cut back on services, but that residents were fully consulted before the closure decisions were taken.

The council says that reductions in its revenue support grant for 1995/96 have left it facing a 'capping gap' of almost £45m.

It had to achieve savings of £10.7m in its social services budget, and to contend with a £17m bill for the refurbishment of its residential homes for the elderly.

But Mr Bradley said the council had ceased referring new residents to Bourn House as early as May last year, indicating that by that time the closure decision had already been taken.

Residents and their carers should have been consulted while the closure proposal was 'at a formative stage', but were not, he claimed.

The hearing continues.

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