A COUNCIL received more than 600 responses to a consultation on closing a residential care home, it has emerged.

Newtown House, in Stanhope, Weardale, is one of five facilities facing the axe under Durham County Council cutbacks.

A 12-week consultation on whether to repair, privatise or close the homes ended earlier this month.

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The Northern Echo has seen council figures disclosing the authority received 648 pieces of correspondence relating to Newtown House, including seven petitions.

Independent Weardale councillor John Shuttleworth: “This demonstrates the real concern that people have.

“There’s genuine fear and concern, because there’s a need for the home and it’s going to increase.”

Labour chiefs say facing cuts of £242m between 2010 and 2017 they must review all council services but insist no decisions yet have been taken on the future of the homes.

The other four at risk are Cheveley House, Belmont; Feryemount, Ferryhill; Grampian House, Peterlee; and Mendip House, Chester-le-Street.

They are home to nearly 50 permanent residents and employ around 170 staff but are said to be costly to run, need £3m of repairs and their closure would save more than £1m.

The council’s cabinet is expected to decide their fate in the next few months.