A DOOMED council attempt to force a judicial review over controversial care fees has ended.
Newcastle Council has been refused permission to try to overturn a court hearing in which it was told it had set fees for care home operators too low, with the judge accepting business must be able to make a profit from the service they sell the council.
The legal bill already stands at around £60,000 and would be likely to rise higher if the council decided it would continue legal action to seek a judicial review allowing it to set a lower price for care costs.
Its decision angered those at the Care North East firm who accused the council of wasting money on a vanity exercise. The initial decision against the council, Care North East says, stated there was little chance of any judicial appeal.
At the heart of the dispute was a claim from Newcastle that it had no duty to allow firms to profit from care, with city officials refusing to place the elderly in care homes not accepting the new contracts. With Care North East now claiming victory, the two sides will have to sit down for detailed talks over what happens next.
Last night Simon Beckett , chairman of Care North East Newcastle, said: “The decision of the courts to refuse Newcastle Council leave to appeal, after they lost their case against Care North East on all counts, illustrates what a total waste of time and money the whole exercise has been.
“The council were told they were unlikely to be granted leave to appeal but they still pursued it, wasting taxpayers’ money, which could and should have been used for frontline services. It is way past the time when the council should cease this pointless exercise of pretending that the costs of care are not what they are.
“Council officials should have been prepared to sit down and negotiate with us in a realistic and commercial manner as we have always indicated we would and recognise the actual costs of 24/7 care.
“Our motivation has always been to provide the highest quality of care for the most frail and vulnerable members of our society. It is hard to avoid the belief that the decision making of certain officials within Newcastle Council, by continual reference to alleged profits, is being driven by a strategy of political intent, rather than the care needs of those who require full-time care in the city.”
A Newcastle City Council spokesman said: “We’re disappointed by the decision not to allow us leave to appeal against the judicial review. We pursued this action because we believe the council should not have to use more and more of the money it needs for vital frontline services to guarantee healthy profits for care home owners.
“We are currently considering our options and will instruct our legal team in due course. No one funded by us to live in a care home in the city has been affected by this dispute.”