Families praised for their 'tenacity'
FAMILIES have been praised for their tenacity in a long-running campaign to secure care for their loved ones at Occombe House.
They have been fighting to keep the seven disabled residents together at the site in Preston Down Road after it was threatened with closure two years ago.
Now there are hopes that the site will be secured in a 40-year lease to a new care provider.
Cllr John Thomas, Torbay council's overview and scrutiny chairman told them: "You have taken a very long journey and you were not being listened to at the start of it.
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"You have been tenacious, you have stuck to your guns."
He was speaking at a meeting to consider a 'call-in' of the decision by the Mayor Gordon Oliver to agree to the lease.
Members Alan Faulkner Bobbie Davies, Ian Doggett, Ruth Pentney and Steve Darling said they wanted to look again at the decision because they were concerned it had been taken in private.
They also wanted further evidence and assurances that families had been listened to in the process and ongoing care for the residents.
But the committee unanimously decided to take 'no further action' after their fears were allayed during the meeting.
Mayor Oliver told the meeting that to have left the decision to the next full council meeting in December would have led to an 'intolerable delay'.
He said he had supported the families throughout and pledged: "I'm here to keep my promises to the families."
He told members that the new care provider would be named by the end of the month and plans to create bungalows for the residents should be submitted to South Hams District Council within 15 months.
The bungalows will be built on the site of the now-closed Fairwinds day centre.
The residents will continue to live at the home until their new units are built.
Occombe House is then due to be demolished.
Steve Honeywill, capital and estates manager for the health authority said there had been discussions with South Hams District Council about the plans.
He said: "They have given an 'amber light' to the proposal to build the bungalows so that the provider will be able to crack on with the planning application.
"South Hams' planning department has been kept in the loop throughout."
Cllr Steve Darling, vice-chairman said that they welcomed the factual information which they had not had prior to the call-in.
Cllr Darling said: "We now have some very useful stakes in the ground."