A LEGAL bid to stop the closure of five council-run care and respite homes in Wirral was defeated today.
Lawyers acting for a man who uses one of the homes obtained an injunction last week preventing its closure until a hearing in Manchester this morning.
They hoped to force a judicial review of the decision to shut Mapleholme, Pensall, Poulton, Meadowcroft and Fernleigh by March 31.
But it was rejected after they applied to replace the original claimant, Steve Hornby from Eastham, with two further claimants.
Mr Hornby has received respite care at Fernleigh, which the council announced this week would remain open while it explored options.
His solicitors wanted to replace him in the case with users of care homes which are still threatened with closure.
The court ruled they would have to bring their own fresh claims to challenge the council’s decision.
Mr Hornby’s solicitor, Mathieu Culverhouse, of law firm Irwin Mitchell, said: "We are pleased that legal action has resulted in the council reversing its decision and agreeing to keep Fernleigh open.
"The decision to close it would have caused considerable difficulty and distress.
"We are disappointed that our attempts to keep the other four facilities open via a judicial review have been opposed on a legal technical point.
"We are therefore currently considering our options to press for them to be kept open for use for our vulnerable disabled clients."
Wirral Council wants independent or voluntary providers to take over services currently offered through council-run respite centres and care homes
Councillor Bob Moon, cabinet member for Social Care, said: "We have always said, and continue to stress, that no-one will be left without services.
"To address a small shortfall in some areas we will continue to provide some respite service at Sylvandale and Girtrell Court, and in-house provision for people who need specialist short-term mental health care at Fernleigh, while options are considered."
"This is in the interests of a seamless transition for the people who use our services, and their families and carers, whose needs and interests are paramount."
The council says all other transition arrangements for respite provision will continue as normal as it works towards the March 31 changeover date,
The next group of service users who will receive care plans will be those who use Supported Living services, which are due to change to new providers on May 31.