Girtrell Court – Respite extended until end of June

At last night’s Wirral West Constituency Committee, carers spoke from the heart and with passion about the impact the closure of Girtrell Court would have on them and their loved ones.   They also spoke about the unknown during the consultation process and the fact that people could not book respite after March because Girtrell Court were not accepting bookings beyond that date.

We were delighted that the constituency committee agreed to send a resolution to the Cabinet that closure of Girtrell Court should not go ahead and that respite at Girtrell Court be reinstated while the consultation takes place.   Sadly the six Labour Councillors, two of which are Cabinet Members did not support the resolution and abstained.

That said clearly a message about the lack of respite did get through to Graham Hodkinson the Director of Adult Social Services who attended the meeting and tried to answer the difficult questions put to him without much success, however we have learned that he has agreed to reopen bookings for respite at Girtrell Court until the end of June.   If you click on this LINK you can read the letter he will be sending to carers and users of Girtrell Court.  We are delighted to have been able to play our part in helping secure this concession.

This is a small but substantial victory, however the fight to make sure Girtrell Court stays open continues right up until the Cabinet makes its decision at its meeting on the 22nd February at Wallasey Town Hall, the meeting is open to the public and starts at 10am.

We are aware that Unison are arranging a protest lobby at the Town Hall starting at 9am prior to the Cabinet meeting and would welcome as much support as possible so that a very strong message is sent to the Cabinet.

No Decision in Public, Closure in Private!


Campaigners fighting to save the Council’s only respite care facility have revealed that the Authority has now banned families from making any bookings at Girtrell Court after March. At the same time, staff have been issued with redundancy notices, stating their jobs are ‘to be deleted’.

At two meetings of Constituency Committees (Wallasey and West Wirral), members of the Cabinet and the Director of Adult Social Services assured families that ‘no decision’ has been taken and that the closure plan is ‘out for consultation’ ahead of the Council’s budget meeting next month.

Councillor Chris Blakeley said: “This week, we have learned that these public assurances are meaningless. Families are now in a state of limbo as they cannot make bookings for respite care after March while staff have been told to leave. Yet, even at this late stage, the Town Hall has failed to find acceptable, alternative provision.”


Not us Say the Council – It’s a Mystery

Copse SMR 2On Thursday I received a couple of telephone calls from constituents concerned about some work going on at the Council owned wooded copse on Saughall Massie Road, close to the junction with the Upton bypass.

One resident approached the workmen, who were very secretive about what they were doing, why and who for.   When they finished they erected block and mes fencing and padlocked it.

Now I have spoken to the Councils Asset Management Team, the Planning Team, The Highways Team and Parks and Open Spaces, none of them are doing any work or have commissioned any work at this location, so who are these mysterious people?

If anyone out there has a clue, please let us know.    In the meantime I have asked the Council to investigate further and if necessary remove the fencing and the padlocks, that may smoke out whoever is doing this work.

Girtrell Court – Carers Condemn the Council’s Alternatives


Following meetings with Wirral Councils Adult Social Services, carers of loved ones who use Girtrell Court have said that should Girtrell Court close, the alternatives being offered are simply not suitable.

Mr Peter Linnane, whose son Mark uses Girtrell Court has carried out research into the list of the alternative providers and has made his findings known to the Council. (That email is appended)

Mr Linnane said, “It’s clear that Council Officers in their haste to save £155,000 have not taken into account fully the needs of the users and families of Girtrell Court and are asking elected members to make a decision on this, based purely on a report from the Director of Adult Social Services which is clearly skewed to support closure.

“It’s important that Councillors fully understand the devastating impact that closure would have on families who provide day to day care for their loved ones and understand their needs, as do the caring staff at Girtrell Court, I sincerely hope they will think again and keep Girtrell Court open.

Local Councillor Chris Blakeley, who with colleagues Cllr Bruce Berry and Cllr Steve Williams set up the Friends of Girtrell Court group said, “the findings of Mr Linnanes research is damning and demonstrates without doubt that the Councils proposal to close Girtell Court is nothing more than a penny pinching ill thought out and ill-conceived plan that attacks some of the most vulnerable people in our society and the Council should be ashamed for even putting this proposal on the table.

“In December we offered to work with the Leader of the Council to try to find a solution that would meet the Councils and the users needs, that offer remains open and we are keen to explore any alternatives, including a like for like provision in perhaps a smaller modified Council building.

Local Councillor Bruce Berry, who serves on the Councils Families and Wellbeing Committee said, “I am aware of the great work done at Girtell Court by professional and caring staff.    This should not be about money, this is about people, people who this Council should be supporting, not throwing them into the unknown of the independent sector, who it appears, cannot provide the level of support that is needed.”



“Carers, service users and Councillors are being told that if Girtrell Court closes then there is suitable alternative provision in the private sector. Councillors will make a decision on the understanding that this is true and has been validated.

I’ve done an analysis (based on the hand outs from the meeting on 22 January) of the alternatives and they are as follows:

1) Holidays – an option but not a buildings based respite service which most people will want (even if you say let’s wait for the 1 to 1s)

2) Supported living – an option but most people won’t want other people in their home while they’re away (even if you say let’s wait for the 1 to 1s)

3) Elderly people’s homes – there are 15 listed, less than half have passed the CQC test recently, hardly anyone who uses Girtrell Court is of this age or would want to be placed in an OAP Home. I worry that they have been added to bulk up the number of options. Only one caters specifically for people with Learning Disabilities.

4) Buildings based respite – there are 10 listed. Only 6 have passed the CQC test recently. One has no vacancies and only deals with Autism. The others are old victorian buildings on many floors, none of which are fully accessible for people with mobility problems. This is turning the clock back 25 years to Arrowe Hall which was deemed unsuitable for those very reasons. I visited one of these properties a few years ago when we were assessing alternatives to Maplehome and it was a warren of narrow dark corridors with steps around every turn and access for wheelchairs through the backyard and then the kitchen.

I really don’t understand why you would want the alternative offerings to be kept in the shadows.

Councillors need to be fully informed before they make their decisions.   Councillors won’t know the findings of the 1 to 1s when they make their decision.   They will make their decision on the basis of the information provided to them by Graham at a generic high level. They will not drill down to see the detail as I have done.   They won’t look at these places as a carer would.

Nobody could describe what’s on offer as “suitable quality alternatives” particularly those with mobility issues, I.E.. nearly half of the current service users at Girtrell Court.  A good Council would plan for all the carers/ service users wishing to retain their building based respite service when they have their 1 to 1s. They would not plan for them all to want something else!”

End of email

Petition to Save Girtrell Court

Earlier today I met up with my colleague, Cllr Bruce Berry and members of the Unison Union outside a very windy and cold Asda in Birkenhead to collect signatures opposing the closure of Girtell Court respite centre.  (I am pictured above)

lots of people have not heard of Girtrell Court in Saughall Massie and the excellent work it does to help people with profound learning and physical difficulties and their families, when they did hear about it they had no hesitation in signing the petition.

This is the last respite centre that is in Council ownership and in order to save £155,000 (that’s less than the Council Chief Executive earns each year) they want to close it and throw the users and their families out into the independent sector.

We need to make this Council think again, so if you want to sign the petition you can use the online one which can be accessed by clicking HERE.