Relatives with loved ones at two dementia care homes earmarked for closure have threatened legal action against Kirklees Council.
The Save our Kirklees Dementia Care Homes campaign group has hired the same law firm which represented Hands Off HRI when Huddersfield Royal Infirmary was under threat.
The group says lawyers from Irwin Mitchell have sent the council an official ‘letter of warning’ demanding that the ongoing consultation be stopped.
Campaigners claim the consultation is “potentially flawed and therefore illegal” as information is incorrect or incomplete.
Kirklees Council is battling to stave off bankruptcy and must slash £47 million from its budget by February.
As part of a raft of cost-cutting measures, the council wants to shut down both its dementia care homes – Castle Grange in Newsome and Claremont House in Heckmondwike.
Since that was announced in September, families have made heart-breaking pleas to councillors fearing the upheaval of moving loved ones could have a devastating impact on their health and well-being.
The campaign group says if the consultation, due to run until January 3, isn’t scrapped they will go to the High Court to seek a Judicial Review.
Families say they have been misled by the consultation. They were initially informed there were 57 possible alternatives in the private sector. However, the council has since said that list was inaccurate and has withdrawn it.
Relatives have now been told there are only six possible alternatives with insufficient detail about vacancy levels or potential costs.
The group also says there’s no detail about the cost savings of the closures nor has a full analysis taken place over the impact on residents forced to move.
A spokesman for the group said: “We are all devastated about this proposal and will do all we can to protect and safeguard our loved ones.
“This awful disease has taken its toll on their health and wellbeing. We have found two wonderful homes which can cater for almost all their needs and we cannot imagine what having to uproot them will do.
“For most of us, we feel they will not survive another move. We have tried to understand the council’s motives but we keep getting unclear, inconsistent and unhelpful advice.
“This proposal is ill thought through and does not add up. Whilst it seems to be about saving money, their figures suggest to us it will actually cost them and us more to close these homes.
“They are only prepared to consider one option, that is to close these homes. They must halt this closure plan, go back to the drawing board, talk to us, their staff and other key stakeholders and come up with a better alternative.
“We have been doing everything in our power to stop them but it seems only legal action will make them see sense.
“If the council withdraws its plans and goes back to square one, then we will cease our legal case, but they should be under no illusion, we will go all the way if we have to.”
In response, Clr Jackie Ramsay, Cabinet member for health and social care, said: “Proposals to review dementia residential care in Kirklees were put to Cabinet on September 26 and we are now consulting with the families of residents, staff and other stakeholders over the coming months.
“The outcome of the consultation will be put to Cabinet in the New Year for a final decision. We will work with all parties to make sure our care home residents receive the care they need.
“The council is committed to supporting people living with dementia where there are not many alternative providers of care and has recently invested £8m in a new dementia day service.”