CAMPAIGNERS battling to save two homes for the elderly in Blackburn from the axe look likely to lose their fight.

Social services chiefs are recommending that Shadsworth House in Dunoon Drive and Laneside in Shorrock Lane should be closed as part of a plan to save £1.3million.

An announcement was made in November that consideration was being given to the cost cutting exercise with a final decision being made after a consultation period.

But now, that consultation period is over and, despite a strong campaign from the residents of relatives in the two homes, councillors have been advised by officers to go ahead with the closures.

The Shadsworth House home is already empty and Laneside has only two residents left, both are awaiting a move to a private sector home where there are currently no vacancies.

Campaigners point to the emptying of the two homes as evidence that the consultation period meant nothing and the decision was always cut and dried.

But social services bosses insist no decision has been taken until the end of the "genuine" consultation period.

A report which will be presented to councillors reads: "With the exception of comments received in opposition to the closure of Shadsworth House and Laneside, mainly from residents or relatives, the overwhelming response during the consultation process on developing services for older people has been supportive." The report details various meetings between social services staff and both residents and relatives to explain the moves.

It adds: "This has inevitably been a difficult process for some of those involved, but in the vast majority of cases people are satisfied with the arrangements that have been made for them."

Marjorie McCarthy, leader of the relatives campaign group said: "We said all along this was cut and dried and they have proved us right.

"They haven't listened and in Shadsworth we are wondering what the point in having councillors is. We are disillusioned and disappointed."

The council will save £658,000 from the closure of the two homes for the elderly.

Further cash will be saved from the closure of Hopwood Court, a residential resource centre for the disabled.

It will be converted into a temporary short stay rehabilitation unit for elderly people coming out of hospital.

And 20 per cent of the council's home care services look set to be contracted out to the independent sector, saving the council £200,000.

Members of the social services committee will meet to make the decision at Blackburn town hall on Thursday.

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