Bonnyton protesters take fight back to council HQ

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Campaigners gathered at East Ren Council HQ last night (Wednesday) in an ongoing bid to fight privatisation plans for Bonnyton House care home.

The Busby facility — ERC’s last remaining care home — still faces the axe as part of the council’s approved budget savings plan, introduced to meet a £22 million shortfall over three years.

The budget plan was approved in February — but following a 2,007-strong petition from Bonnyton residents, families, staff and supporters, the council agreed to defer the decision, bringing in auditors to look at alternative proposals from campaigners.

Protesters were initially “encouraged” by the response — but now, some accuse ERC of a lack of communication.

Campaigner Allan Smillie told The Extra: “We’re living in the dark at the moment. I’ve asked for more on the brief given to auditor KPMG, but the council are not prepared to tell me.

“We don’t know what’s happening. But we always have a reasonable number of people at our protests, and we have a lot of time to influence things.

“Even if a decision is made to pass the home over to private hands, it won’t happen until 2017 — that’s a long time between decision and execution. We have to keep the fight open on a number of fronts.”

Wednesday’s demonstration — planned to coincide with a council meeting — was supported by Commonweal East Renfrewshire.

Bonnyton residents also received support from East Renfrewshire MP Jim Murphy and Eastwood MSP Ken Macintosh when both visited last week (see p14) — Mr Murphy commented: “I really do hope that a way can be found to maintain Bonnyton as a council-run service.”

An ERC spokeswoman reiterated that “the council has committed to working with the families, friends and staff of Bonnyton House to carefully consider alternative savings proposals that may help the council to continue to run the care home, albeit in a different way”.

She added: “KMPG has been independently scruntinising two alternative proposals for Bonnyton House which came out of our consultations with local people. We are keen that no stone is left unturned in examining what our options are.”