COUNCILLORS will decide the fate of five closure-threatened care homes next month (April), The Northern Echo has learned.

Durham County Council held a 12-week consultation on the future of the homes over the winter, but, in January, could not confirm when a decision would be taken.

Now the Echo has seen an internal document revealing the executive cabinet will take a vote at a meeting to be held at Crook Civic Centre on Wednesday, April 16, at 10am.

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No recommendations from officials have yet emerged, but three options were on the table: repair, privatisation and closure.

The homes at risk are: Cheveley House, Belmont; Feryemount, Ferryhill; Grampian House, Peterlee; Mendip House, Chester-le-Street; and Newtown House, Stanhope.

They are home to dozens of elderly people.

Council chiefs facing cuts of £242m between 2010 and 2017 say all services must be reviewed.

But supporters have fought hard to save the homes, including a protest at Newtown House which saw Methodist minister Sue Peat chain herself to the gates.

There have also been several protests outside County Hall.