BCC members back Ascog care home plan

BUTE’S community councillors have come out broadly in favour of proposals for a new 30-bed elderly care home in Ascog.

The planning application by local developer Ian Woollcott, the subject of a detailed report in our July 15 edition, has resulted in lively debate, in our letters page and elsewhere, among residents of Ascog and the rest of the island.

BCC vice-chair Grace Strong told the community council’s July meeting: “By all accounts, it appears we probably do need more 24-hour care.

“The feeling I’ve got is we do require a care home, and we need more tenders. I read the letter in The Buteman, and just to clarify – Ascog isn’t a village, it’s part of Rothesay.

“I read about an increase in traffic, and I have to point out that there was once a railway convalescent home there, and there were no problems with traffic.

“I think that one has to take into consideration the facilities for our ageing population. I for one, would support a care home, whether it’s located at Ascog or otherwise - and I speak with over 40 years experience in the medical profession.”

Chairman Donnie MacLeod said: “I have to agree with Grace. There were three residential schools and two residential homes in Ascog at one point.”

Dr Richard Carley, who organised a meeting in Ascog last Monday to consider the application and the concerns of some nearby residents, attended BCC to speak as a member of the public and said: “Is there an actual need for another care home on the island?

“I was told that at one, there was an empty bed there for one year. If one is built, is should not be done in a conservation area.”

BCC member Gertie Reynolds said: “People have been very distressed at having to be shunted off the island, and I think it’s essential that we provide the facilities needed here.”

Dr Carley, who owns Clyde House, next door to the site, told the meeting: “As regards staff, there will be 36 carers going in and out, as well as doctors, chiropodists, refuse collectors, suppliers and administrators. There will be a problem with traffic.”

Miss Strong responded: “I did take into account staffing. There are a number of displaced staff at the moment due to the closure of the Annexe, and they could, essentially, be transferred to this home.”

Bill McQueen pointed out that the current planning permission for the site permitted the construction of ten houses, and said he believed such a development would generate “a huge amount of traffic”.

Dr Carley stated he would find a care home with six or seven beds acceptable, but again queried whether a 30-bed facility was suitable or necessary.

Ascog resident Ronnie Falconer, who chaired the meeting two nights previously, said of the gathering: “There were many views expressed – some were supportive, and some expressed concerns. Councillor Scoullar was in attendance, and has offered to help with a resolution.

“Councillor Scoullar was impartial, with no views for or against the proposal. There are various concerns over traffic, and the nature of Ascog has changed considerably. It needs to be assessed as it is now, not in terms of how it used to be.”

BCC member Jeanette McIntyre said: “There will be traffic, no doubt, regardless of where it’s built. So isn’t it a good idea that it might be built in an area where there is less congestion to begin with?”

Frank Baxter asked: “Is it because it’s a nursing home, rather than a care home? In which case, we do need a nursing home.”

Dr Carley pointed out: “In the current financial climate, nursing homes don’t have a good record, and we may be left with an empty building.

“I also have to add that the pavements outside are not fit for disabled or elderly people to use.”

Argyll and Bute councillor Robert Macintyre later told The Buteman: “Over the last few years it has become increasingly apparent that there are not enough beds to care for the elderly on our island. 

“Since the closure of the Annexe the situation has become more acute.  The new care home would mean that many elderly folk would not require to be moved off the island, which is an important factor at this late stage in their lives.”

Councillor Isobel Strong added: “Since I became a councillor there’s been a recurring theme on the island with regard to elderly care and the provision of different levels of care, and I think we definitely need another care home on the island.

“Exactly where it is situated is another matter in itself.”