Sparks fly at Bonnyton protest

Nettie Hall (92) presents the petition to ERC comms manager Louisa Mahon
Nettie Hall (92) presents the petition to ERC comms manager Louisa Mahon

Tempers flared at Bonnyton House on Monday as protesters made a final plea to East Renfrewshire Council not to privatise its last remaining care home.

The council proposes selling off Bonnyton House as part of its budget savings plan in a bid to meet a £20 million shortfall over the next three years.

But residents, staff and relatives say that the standard of care will fall if Bonnyton changes hands — and this week handed over a petition with 2,007 signatures.

Presenting the petition to health convener Alan Lafferty and ERC’s communications manager was 92-year-old Nettie Hall, a long-time neighbour of Bonnyton and now a resident.

Campaigner Allan Smillie told The Extra: “East Renfrewshire Council has a duty of care to its residents, and if that commitment is true then what better place to start than a care home that receives excellent reports?

“We have had a number of meetings with the health department who have been very receptive to our proposals which, we believe, would make Bonnyton a valuable and viable asset.”

Despite encouraging talks, Monday’s meeting ended abruptly as staff stormed out, criticising councillor Lafferty’s suggestion that the home could be “better managed” in the private sector.

One relative commented: “No one has spoken to the residents. Spend some time with staff and residents and see how much effort is spent here.”

Social care worker Alison Harvey added: “My mother was fortunate enough to live here for years, and the support that both she got, and that I got as a colleague, friend and relative, was second to none. I cannot praise the staff highly enough.”

In a statement responding to the petition, ERC promised to “work with the families, friends and staff of Bonnyton to carefully consider alternative savings proposals that may help the council to continue to run the care home, albeit in a different way.

“We are carrying out full option appraisals on two proposals put forward and will be seeking external support to ensure this is done objectively.

“We are confident that, no matter what the outcome, everything will be done to protect the people we look after.”

A final decision on budget cuts will be made on February 12 at a special council meeting.