CAMPAIGNERS fighting the possible closure of councilrun care homes are planning a public show of strength.

Brothers George and David Dutch, whose 93-year-old mother, Margaret, lives in Shafto House, Newton Aycliffe, County Durham, have called a public meeting, which they hope will unite families with relatives in all seven Durham County Council homes threatened with closure.

David Dutch said: “We want to show the strength of public feeling against closing the homes. We want answers.

“The reaction is building.

George has had quite a few phone calls. If we stir things up, there will be quite a backlash.

We’ve got to kick back.”

The brothers say if their mother was forced to move from Shafto House, her home for the past two years, they are 99 per cent certain she would not survive.

They are writing to all seven homes asking managers to hand out flyers publicising their meeting.

Councillors and council officials, including Durham County Council leader Simon Henig and Rachael Shimmin, corporate director of adults, wellbeing and health, have been invited.

Human rights lawyer Yvonne Hossacks will talk about potential legal options.

Meanwhile, Great Aycliffe Residents’ Association has pledged its support in the battle to save Shafto House and is planning its own meeting.

Efforts are also under way to save Glendale House, in Blackhall, near Consett.

Posters have been put up and a petition has been launched.

Along with Shafto and Glendale, the county council is considering closing Hackworth House, in Shildon; Manor House, in Annfield Plain; Stanfield House, in Stanley; Lynwood House, in Lanchester; and East Green, in West Auckland.

Three months of consultation will begin on Monday.

The council says it would cost more than £39m to bring the homes up to standard, that council care beds are more expensive than the private sector and occupancy rates are lower.

A spokeswoman said the authority would be taking part in public presentations and question-and-answer sessions, details of which would be announced shortly.

“However, it would be inappropriate for the council to publicise a meeting when it could not be entirely sure of the content or accuracy of any statements made,” she said.

“We are extremely aware of how emotive the subject is, which is why we are offering everyone who wants to have their say such clear opportunities to make their point as part of the formal consultation process.”

The Dutch brothers’ meeting will be held in St Mary’s Church, Central Avenue, Newton Aycliffe, next Friday, at 7pm. Call 0191-286-4701 or email

How you can comment...

DURHAM County Council has revealed how people can give their views about the proposed closure of the seven care homes.

Comments can be emailed to residentialcarehomescon Comments can also be made by calling 0191-372- 5594 and by post to Residential Care Consultation Team, Adults, Wellbeing and Health, Durham County Council, 2/96 County Hall, Durham, DH1 5UG.

The phone line will not be staffed 24 hours a day, but there will be an answer machine.

Callers can leave comments or request a council officer calls them back.

Care home residents will be offered one-to-one meetings.

The consultation will run from Monday until Friday, April 30.

For further details, visit and click on Have Your Say.

Councillor Morris Nicholls, cabinet member for adult services, said it was important that residential care services reflected the changing needs of older residents and encouraged everyone involved or affected by residential care to take part in the consultation.