Care home campaigners condemn Conservative claims
Last updated at 20:01, Thursday, 10 May 2012
Campaigners who fought to save Aspatria’s only care home from closure have condemned the Conservative Party for allegedly using the decision to save it to win voters.
Members of the group Park Lodge – The Future, said they were dismayed to find a Tory campaign leaflet for this month’s county council by-election describing Conservative councillors as rallying together to keep the home open.
The leaflet featured a picture of Tory candidate Jim Lister beside a Save Park Lodge sign outside the home, the sign’s wording digitally changed to make it blue.
The picture was taken after the home was saved, and a ‘D’ had been added to reflect that.
Coun Lister, who represents the Solway ward on Allerdale council, said that, although he had not spoken publicly on the issue, he had worked hard in the background to persuade county councillors not to close the home.
But a letter endorsed by Park Lodge – The Future members Alan Reay and Iris Stobbart, Bill Finlay said: “The original proposal to close Park Lodge came from a Conservative dominated county council.
“Proposals such as these do not come out of thin air and would not have come forward had they not had support for the political leadership at the outset.”
Coun Finlay is an independent member of Allerdale council and is also standing in the Aspatria and Wharrels by-election.
He said: “I feel I have to put the record straight and would have done so regardless of the fact that I am also an independent candidate in the same by-election.
“The campaign group was a model community action group established and energised by Iris Stobbart, who is not a politician, and supported by the local community as well as by trade unions and some local politicians.
“The truth is that the community got it right and the Conservative dominated county cabinet caved in when they realised they had got it wrong and that the community campaign had gathered evidence that proved they had got it wrong.”
Coun Lister said: “The closure of Park Lodge was not proposed; it was put out for consultation on the advice of officers.
“As I’m not a county councillor I was not privy to the deliberations of the cabinet but, as an Allerdale councillor whose ward surrounds Aspatria on three sides, I lobbied vigorously for it to remain open.”
He said the party had not changed the colour of the lettering on the image, and said that amendment was put down to the printers.
He added: “I don’t apologise for my leaflet. It’s there to represent what has been achieved by the Conservative group in Aspatria and Wharrels and some of the things we hope to achieve in the future.”
The by-election on May 24 follows the resignation of Michael Johnson. Also standing are Liberal Democrat Phill Roberts, of Low Scales, Labour’s Brian Cope, of Uldale and the Green Party’s David Bober, of Brigham.
First published at 19:25, Thursday, 10 May 2012
Published by http://www.timesandstar.co.uk
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