Ceredigion’s Council Cabinet today voted to defer any decision on closing Bodlondeb residential home in Aberystwyth until further meetings and discussions have been held. But the Cabinet was split after a proposal to abandon the plans altogether was defeated.
A coach load of local residents had travelled down to Aberaeron to witness the debate on the Council’s Feasibility Report into plans for transferring residents at the Council-run Bodlondeb in Penparcau to the site of the privately-run Hafan y Waun at Waun Fawr on the other side of Aberystwyth.
The split came when Council Leader Keith Evans proposed that the item be deferred until a Budgetary Workshop meeting involving the whole Council was held. This would discuss the proposals in the context of the overall council budget. However this proposal seemed to surprise some Cabinet members, who had already met for a ‘pre-Cabinet meeting’ earlier in the morning.
Hag Harris, Cabinet Member for Social Services and therefore the councillor with the portfolio for the issue, proposed that plans to close Bodlondeb be abandoned altogether. The proposal was greeted by huge cheers and a standing ovation from the public gallery.
He was supported by Ceredig Davies, Cabinet Member for Education, whose portfolio could be in the frame for providing some of the extra money needed to maintain Bodlondeb. However they were outvoted by other Cabinet members who all backed the Council Leader’s proposal to discuss the plans further. Those voting against the proposal to abandon the closure included Carl Williams, Lib Dem councillor for North ward in Aberystwyth, along with his Lib Dem colleague, Eurfyl Evans and the various Independents on the Cabinet.
It was an emotional roller coaster for the dozens of people in the public gallery who momentarily thought their campaign to save Bodlondeb had succeeded following Hag Harris’s intervention. The sight of the Council Leader clashing publically with the responsible Cabinet Member, having first had the opportunity to agree a mutual stance at a preliminary meeting, is very unusual and it was clear there was annoyance on both sides.
Councillors were later notified that the Budgetary Workshop to discuss the plans further will be held on the morning of Tuesday 26th July. It’s not yet clear if the public will be allowed to attend.