11:06AM, Wednesday 24 April 2013
Sceptical villagers have questioned how they can trust a care home that will put in plans to become an independent community mental health hospital next month.
In a lively Bisham Parish Council meeting on Monday, representatives from Apple Hill care home in Henley Road, Hurley, which specialises in dementia care, announced the proposals in response to an ongoing breach of the home's planning consent.
The Royal Borough has given the home until early May to put in new plans for the site's use following a breach which has seen the centre house people younger than 65 with mental health needs despite only having permission to admit elderly residents.
Planning consultant John O'Donovan, representing owner Henley Healthcare, admitted the company was not in compliance and apologised for the breach.
He added: "We are hoping to put the matter right. We want to say what the proposed use is and what the impacts are."
Henley Healthcare director Ian Hodson said there was a need for a local mental health facility and added there was a lack of need for homes for the elderly in the borough - a claim disputed by some attendees.
A crowd of about 25 residents expressed their frustration about why the breach had been allowed to remain in place and raised concerns about security, safety and anti-social behaviour after encountering problems in the past.
Mr Hodson said the home would not be a secure unit but the new use would allow staff more powers to restrict patients' movements if it was felt necessary.
Several villagers expressed empathy for the need for mental health facilities, but said they lacked faith in the company and its motivations.
Stephen Vincent said: "We are very concerned you have chosen to ignore planning consent. Why should we trust anything you say?"
Another resident, Joe Staunton, added: "If you are genuinely sorry you would rectify the breach."
The meeting took place at Bisham Abbey.
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