A PLAN to close a Basingstoke care home has moved a step closer after a public consultation on the idea was given the go-ahead.

Last Friday, Councillor Anna McNair Scott, executive member for adult social care at Hampshire County Council, agreed to open a 12-week consultation on a proposal to close Deeside residential home, in Alliston Way, South Ham, and other Hampshire-owned homes in Lyndhurst, Petersfield and Romsey.

Deeside, built in 1965, has 29 older residents, who are either physically frail or have dementia, and there are 43 full or part-time staff.

Hampshire County Council estimates it would cost £2.3million to upgrade Deeside to modern standards. In all, the cost of upgrading the four homes is estimated at £10m.

If the Deeside closure is approved, some residents would be moved to Oakridge Care Home, which is currently being extended, while the county is looking to build a second extra care housing scheme in the town to complement Newman Court, in Gershwin Road, Brighton Hill.

As reported in last Thursday’s Gazette, Richard Bambridge, branch secretary for the Unite union at the county council, said staff at Deeside – who face being offered voluntary redundancy or being redeployed if the closure of the home is approved – are “absolutely distraught” about the proposal.

Speaking on Friday, Cllr McNair Scott said: “This was not an easy decision to make. I have considered carefully the case put forward and have decided that we do need to consult on the possible closure of these four homes in order to take account of the changing needs and aspirations of older people.”

She acknowledged that the consultation period would be “a difficult time” for residents, their families and staff at the four care homes, adding that support would be available.

Under the proposal, the county council would sell off the Basingstoke home and put the proceeds into extra care housing – sheltered accommodation modified to suit people with long-term conditions or disabilities. The other three homes have been earmarked for conversion into extra care homes.

Diane Wright, whose 98-year-old mother has lived in Deeside for the past three-and-a-half years, said she was not surprised by the decision to launch the public consultation.

But the 69-year-old, from Brighton Hill, Basingstoke, added: “I am not going to take this sitting down. I am going to fight for Deeside.

“We may be flogging a dead horse but we are not going to go quietly.”

Relatives of the Deeside residents will hold a meeting at the care home at 7.30pm tomorrow to discuss how best to oppose the proposal.

The consultation begins today and questionnaires can be obtained by calling 0845 603 5630 or by visiting hants. gov.uk/residential-care-consultation.htm.

The results will go in a report to Cllr McNair Scott before she makes a final decision in November.