The issue of the Arthur Clarke Home and the Albert Road Day Centre became something of a political football at Tuesday night’s council meeting.
On the one side was the Labour Administration proposing their plan to save money by closing this facility and then making a large amount of money by selling off a prime piece of Caversham real estate. On the other side were the residents who had clearly organised themselves, asked lots of questions and presented a 3,600 signature petition. The Lib Dems and the other opposition parties supported the residents demands to keep the home and day care centre open. Lead Councillor Eden could only say that there would be a full discussion and final decision at a committee meeting on Monday and rejected any attempt to make a decision there and then in council. She kept repeating the line that £1.4m was required immediately to repair the roof and update the interior and keep the home open. She made a big play on the need to provide en-suite bathrooms for every patient but failed to answer why in that case were current residents being offered places in other homes which had no such facilities. And it turns out that many of the repairs are not desperately urgent either. In short Labour’s arguments for having to close the home were seen to be lacking much substance.
There was not even any attempt to say what they might do with any capital receipts from selling off the site when questioned by Cllr Meri O’Connell, no suggestion of providing a new home.
My own feeling is that there is such a wave of support for these well-regarded facilities that Labour will back down on Monday and agree to keep them open. Failure to do so could cost them electorally in Caversham and they know it.
Cllr Ricky Duveen, LibDem Group Leader, Reading Borough Council