Plea to reconsider fate of hostel fails at full council

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EMOTIONS ran high in Wigan’s council chamber as members rejected calls to reconsider the closing of The Pines hostel.

Pressure group leader Doug Melling read out a heartfelt plea after presenting a petition signed by more than 6,000 people asking for the Kitt Green hostel to remain open.

But representatives from the ruling Labour Party stood by their decision to close the facility which houses 24 adults with learning difficulties.

Mr Melling referred to a report by the Care Quality Commission that found that The Pines’ facilities fell below the required standards in several categories.

During his 10 minute speech to the chamber he said: “It is not that the building is derelict, it just needs a little bit of care and attention.”

He added: “The Pines has been described as old and tired.

“If we applied that criteria everywhere in Wigan three quarters of council buildings would be closed down, including this building we are in now.

“But it is not about a building, it’s about every life of the people in that facility.”

Leader of the opposition Coun Gary Wilkes said: “The majority want to keep together and want to stay together. This is an extended family.”

The decision to close the hostel received strenuous support from Labour members.

They referenced the hostel’s poor facilities that resulted in residents becoming “institutionalised” and lacking the ability to make “life choices” such as when and what to eat and when to sleep.

Cabinet member for adult and social care Coun Keith Cunliffe said: “Not one of us here would want to live in those conditions. So why should we expect our most vulnerable to live there.

“The facilities as they are take away choice and control.”

Coun Cunliffe added that the residents would be re-housed in the borough and that friendship groups would be taken into consideration.

He said: “They will still get care 24 seven from our excellent, trained staff, the best care available.”