Wiltshire Council has responded to accusations made over the provision of care at Furlong Close in Rowde, where it pays charity Hft to provide homes and care for people with various disabilities.

Hft claimed in a strongly-worded letter that it had been underfunded by the council and that a 'loss of trust' had led to a breakdown in relations.

The charity has said it intends to close the care facility, but families are still unsure on where their relatives will be placed.

Yesterday, (February 22) Lucy Townsend, corporate director of people at Wiltshire Council, spoke about the concerns of families and described the situation as “unfortunate” for all involved.

She said: “We are a caring organisation. I came into this line of work to make sure we achieved the best outcomes for individuals so that they can live the happiest lives they can, and we are working very hard here to ensure we get the best outcomes that are possible.

“I want to reassure people we are doing our very best.”

The council spoke out after Hft sent a letter to the families of Furlong Close residents stating their plans to withdraw all services from Wiltshire due to the handling of the closure by Wiltshire Council.

This week, Wiltshire Council were accused of “playing ostrich” by local politicians.

Councillor Ian Thorn, leader of the Liberal Democrats, has also called for an independent inquiry over the council’s involvement in the debacle.

No councillors were present at yesterday's briefing, so political questions were unable to fully be answered which, Ms Townsend said, was due to the situation being a "council officer issue."

She added: “I am aware that Ian Thorn, the leader of the opposition, has suggested there should be a public inquiry, and that he did so on the platform Twitter.

"I’m not aware of any formal requests and that will be a matter for the leader of the council to respond to.”

Furlong Close, which is owned and operated by Hft, currently has 38 residents. 14 local authorities, including Wiltshire, pay Hft to provide care for people with learning disabilities. Wiltshire has 25 residents there and there are 13 other councils paying Hft to provide care for another 14 residents

A briefing to councillors released on Monday, ahead of today's cabinet meeting, said: "Wiltshire Council in principle does not believe a campus style is a model of care we would choose to commission going forward, as we hope people with neuro diverse needs could and should live alongside the wider community not on separate sites away from local communities and neighbourhoods.
"However, the council has acknowledged throughout this process how important it is to listen to the views of all residents, their carers and families.  As a council working under the Care Act we recognise many people have lived at Furlong Close for a very long time and some would choose to remain living in this environment."
The council is currently looking at a variety of options on where to rehouse residents. This could include independent living in a flat or shared house, depending on the individual’s level of care and support needed by carers. 

Ms Townsend stressed that nothing has yet been decided in relation to any of the 25 Wiltshire-supported residents at Furlong Close.

A further meeting between the council and families will be held on March 3.