The boss of an award winning Cheshire-based care home company is calling for the resignation of a Warrington councillor after what he considers to be inaccurate, inappropriate and misleading comments were made about a planning application submitted by his business for new care facilities in Lymm.
Liberal Democrat Councillor for Lymm North and Thelwall, Ian Marks, made the comments about the proposed application for a multimillion pound state-of-the-art ‘new generation’ care facility on the site of the Macdonald Hotel on Whitbarrow Road, accusing the company of “gross overdevelopment” and of being a “greedy developer completely ignoring the community in which the site is located.”
Director of McGoff Group, Chris McGoff, has hit back, highlighting the Councillor’s hypocrisy and the many flaws in his argument that could ultimately mislead the local community and adversely affect future levels of quality care that could be delivered for some of the most elderly and vulnerable people in the borough.
“I entirely object to the defamatory comments made by Councillor Marks, and the highly prejudicial statements made about me, the business and this planning application,” said McGoff, “In addition to taking legal action, we have made a formal complaint to Warrington Council through the official complaints procedure and are seeking his immediate resignation.
“The comments made by Councillor Marks are not only highly offensive, but completely hypocritical. Only as recently as July, Mr Marks was quoted in the Warrington Guardian highlighting the lack of social care in the area and calling for “better joined up thinking” to avoid more “years of misery where the sick, vulnerable and elderly are repeatedly let down. He is playing politics at the expense of potentially depriving the delivery of much needed fit-for-purpose facilities in an area where there is a proven and well documented shortage and in our view is potentially technically misrepresenting the application.” said McGoff.
The application for the Macdonald Hotel site on Whitbarrow Road in Lymm includes a request to build a new 66 bed care centre, children’s day nursery and elderly care apartments. The proposal has the full support of Macdonald Hotels who need to redevelop the site due to the loss making nature of the current hotel.
“Some people, including Councillor Marks, may not be aware that the site already has extant planning permission for a significant hotel expansion,” continues McGoff, “Our proposed building is circa 40% smaller in terms of floor space and circa 20% smaller in terms of built footprint with more greenspace and, as such, has a much lower impact on the local environment while significantly increasing social care provision within the local community. If our proposed scheme is smaller than the one that already has approved extant planning permission then how can it be gross overdevelopment?” he said.
“I also entirely object to the accusation of greedy developer,” said McGoff, “As this is not a quick return investment often associated with the build and sell of open market housing. These are purpose-built care facilities that we build, retain and operate from, with a very lengthy return on investment and we are in this for the long haul.”
Evidence gathered following the opening of other Newcare Group care facilities across the UK confirms that the delivery of new build care homes brings other wider community benefits, helping to free up the supply of family homes by affording the elderly an option to effectively downsize into fit-for-purpose accommodation.
Such developments also support the NHS and local health framework, working in partnership to reduce pressure on local hospital beds by caring for those well enough to leave hospital, but not yet well enough to return to their own homes – an award winning scheme that has worked with exemplar effect at The Grand, one of the Group’s facilities in Nottingham.
The care crisis is pertinent national issue. A recent article in The Daily Telegraph highlighted the huge need for quality provision in the care sector revealing that nine out of 10 health authorities are reporting increasing pressure on local beds and forecasting a shortage within the next five years.
“Clearly, research along with the comments made by Councillor Marks back in July, indicate that there is an increasing care crisis that is affecting many local authorities and Warrington no exception,” says McGoff.
“Ironically, given that it is such a hot topic for public debate, it is businesses in the private sector that are stepping forward to deliver the much needed investment.”
He continues: “On the one hand, Councillor Marks claims to be fighting for better care, yet on the other he is objecting to a private developer willing to make a massive financial investment into providing the better care that he claims is required. The provision of a new purpose-built nursery and care centre offer a unique combination of better care for both the young and the old alike and will leave a lasting legacy in Lymm for the next 30-40 years.
“If Marks was a true champion for social care, he would encourage such contributions and look for ways to work together in a collaborative manner and in the true and best interests of the local community. After all, who is going to fund the improvements if private investment is not welcomed and sensibly discussed?”
McGoff concludes by saying: “Accusing us of being “greedy” will undoubtedly lead to some people forming a negative opinion about the business, and in turn this application, which could then lead to its refusal. Furthermore, his throwaway comments could potentially be responsible for denying local people the private investment that could enable them to benefit from high quality local care and stay in the village where they have always lived.
“In addition, given that the extant permission is significantly bigger than the new proposal, which will be viewed as a material consideration at the ensuing appeal, he is also exposing the local council taxpayer to a massive potential financial claim for costs should the application be passed. We will have no alternative but to seek the same should we have to pursue this route to gain an approval.
“Notwithstanding the course of the application though, the ‘developerphobic’ comments made by Councillor Marks are completely inappropriate in this day and age and he must resign now or be removed from his post.”