SOUTHAMPTON’S Labour party will back a union fight over plans to close the city’s last two care homes, going against its own Labour-run council’s proposals.

The row has broken out after a meeting where the party’s chair Alan Fraser claims council leader Chris Hammond, pictured right, agreed to take the home closures “off the table”.

But the council’s cabinet voted to push the plans through to public consultation phase on Tuesday.

Cllr Hammond did not respond to repeated requests for comment on the matter.

Councillor Chris Hammond, cabinet member for Sustainable Living at <a href=Southampton City Council"> Councillor Chris Hammond, cabinet member for Sustainable Living at Southampton City Council

As reported, this prompted unions Unite and Unison to threaten strike action by council-employed workers, as the closures – which the authority says will save £1.37 million – could result in around 70 job losses. However, the council has promised to relocate staff to other areas of the service if the homes are closed.

Currently about 75 elderly people, many who suffer from dementia, live in the two homes, with Holcroft at 91 per cent of its capacity. The authority has said it will help those residents move to other locations – even picking up the private bill if necessary.

Now Southampton and Romsey Labour Party says it will back the union’s fight if the council continues with its motion.

“If nothing changes, we will back the strikes by the unions,” said party secretary Lisa Fricker.

“The homes closure plan is disgraceful. We found out the news from the newspaper – the [council group] didn’t even tell us. We’re livid.

“It’s like Kentish Road all over again.”

Alan Fraser, chair of the Southampton party, pictured below left, added: “We met with councillors on Saturday, October 13 where we had a full and frank discussion [about the plans]. We agreed to put a plan in place which meant we could take the two homes off the table, allowing us all to look at the plans with fresh eyes.

“But this is politics. People make political decisions, such as what Cllr Hammond did on Tuesday [at Cabinet]. We were disappointed and we were annoyed but more importantly we were concerned about the residents in the homes, and their families, who now have three months of waiting, not knowing what is going to happen, especially when you had an opportunity to take this off the table.

The closure proposals are part of the authority’s planned new budget, which includes a 2.99 per cent council tax hike as it looks to save more than £15 million by 2021.

Adult social care is the main area to be hit.

The public consultation will start on October 24 and run for 12 weeks. A final decision will be made in February.