WELLINGTON Town Council has condemned the decision by Abbeyfield to sell off sheltered residents’ homes as ‘appalling’ and said if push came to shove it would consider buying the two retirement homes.

In a letter to residents at Ivy House and The Old Vicarage, which are facing closure, town clerk Dave Farrow said the council had not ruled out purchasing the properties as a last resort.

Mr Farrow also told residents he had secured support from Citizens Advice, and continued to work with Somerset Council and others to find a resolution. He said: “The council is appalled by this decision, fully supports your opposition to it and will do all that it can to ensure that you have access to the support you need to enable you to remain living where you are for as long as you want to.

“We already have agreement from Citizens Advice to visit both homes to provide both group and individual advice if needed and if more support is needed, we will see what we can do to deliver that.”

Mr Farrow all but advised residents to ‘stay put’, telling them it was his understanding the housing charity could not forcibly kick them out: “We should point out also that, as you will already have been advised, it is our understanding that because you have an assured tenancy, Abbeyfield cannot make you move out and therefore you can stay for as long as you choose to do so.

“Secondly, we will be continuing to challenge Abbeyfield on the basis of its decision and will lobby Somerset Council, Rebecca Pow MP and any other individuals and agencies that we think have an interest in this to do likewise.”

As a last resort, Mr Farrow told residents the council could step in to secure the properties themselves: “Thirdly, we are in discussions with Abbeyfield to establish whether, if all else fails, the town council could step in to purchase your buildings and find a way of managing the provision that is acceptable under the regulations governing the management of social housing.  

“That is not a straightforward decision for the council because, as things stand, it would need to raise a significant amount of money for the purchase and then find a willing social housing partner to manage the provision on its behalf. However, it is still under active consideration.

“Finally, if you want to meet with either myself or any of the town councillors in relation to this matter then please feel free to contact me or speak to councillors directly as some of you have been doing already with Andy Govier.”

It comes weeks after residents in Ivy House and The Old Vicarage were hit with the news that eleventh hour talks to save their homes had collapsed - and that Abbeyfield would push on with selling them.

The charity had hoped a purchaser would step in to save the homes, before the deal fell through with Abbeyfield telling its residents ‘it had no choice’ but to release the buildings.