COUNCIL chiefs look set to build and operate two new super care homes in York in line with public demand – even though using private operators would save the authority £24 million over 26 years.

However, City of York Council is likely to go out to tender to procure a private partner for a proposed separate care village – or “community village for older people”.

Coun Tracey Simpson Laing, cabinet member for health, housing and social services, said the recommendations to cabinet were a balance between residents’ views and the financial implications of decisions.

The proposals are the latest twist in a lengthy programme to close the city’s nine outdated care homes and replace them with state-of-the-art care homes at Fordlands in Fulford and at Haxby Hall in Haxby.

There would also be a care village on the six-acre former Lowfields School site, featuring 90 care beds and possibly affordable housing and apartments.

Officers say Oliver House care home in Bishophill and the existing Fordlands home have now closed, saving the authority £1.1 million a year.

They said detailed financial evaluation of the options available for building and running the two new homes and care village had shown that the most viable option was for the three sites to be operated by the independent sector.

This would save £24 million, with further annual savings of £1.8 million thereafter, by the time capital repayments finished after 26 years.

However, 86 per cent of people who responded to a consultation last year were keen for the council to fund, build and operate the care homes.

The cabinet is being recommended to fund, build and operate the new home at Fordlands and, in principle, to operate the Haxby Hall home – subject to financial circumstances in August next year when a final decision must be made.

This option would save £1.1 million after 26 years and then savings of £870,000 a year.

But officers say no care villages in the UK have been designed, built and operated by a local authority on its own and, because of its complexity, the cabinet is being recommended to procure a private partner to fund, build and operate it. The council’s own in-house service would be able to compete for this work alongside external providers.

New lease of life

OLIVER House, which closed in March, looks set to be leased out to provide city centre “health and wellbeing facilities”.

The cabinet will consider four potential uses for the site in Bishophill: as a health and social care hub involving the voluntary sector, leasing it to York St John University for use as student accommodation, affordable housing or an open market sale.

Officers recommend granting a 20-year lease to a voluntary sector management group, which would provide city centre health and wellbeing facilities, including an autism centre and a specialist renal facility.

The site could also be used by health/wellbeing organisations currently operating from Holgate Villas. The lease would provide income that will be reinvested in care facilities for older people.