Miners’ home gets a stay of execution

Lothian Mineworkers' Convalescent Home hosting a recent successful fundraising dinner
Lothian Mineworkers' Convalescent Home hosting a recent successful fundraising dinner

Midlothian Council has agreed to provide half the normal annual grant it gives to the Lothian Mineworkers’ Convalescent Home for this year.

The future of the miners’ convalescent home in Gullane was left in doubt after Midlothian Council scrapped its long-standing service agreement when implementing the budget in March.

With East Lothian Council will continuing to provide £5,000 a year, and reduced rates at the home, those in charge there were angry that Midlothian Council cancelled its £10,000 service agreement, given that so many Midlothian residents use the service.

However, at the recent full council meeting councillors agreed a transitional fund of £4,000 for 2016/17, to facilitate appropriate amendments to the home’s pricing policy to ensure the service’s financial sustainability. This is conditional on instructing the Director of Resources to work with the Trust to explore funding and financial arrangements, and to encourage the Trust to apply for appropriate funding streams.

In addition, the Trust has already received £1,000 from Midlothian Small Grants for the current financial year.

The Labour group proposed that the home be given the full £10,000 while discussions continue, but that amendment was outvoted by the SNP-led administration.

Speaking at the meeting Councillor Bryan Pottinger (Lab) said: “If this isn’t best value for council money, then I don’t know what is.

“Return funding to previous levels. The elderly people of Midlothian need to know that there is a long-term plan for this. We want to see that wheel keep turning. Let’s not look for alternatives.”

Councillor Russell Imrie (Lab), said: “People will have to pay more for the service. Don’t forget, we are talking about working class people here. Who haven’t got a lot of money. We have made a lot about austerity in this chamber. I just hope today that the administration puts their hands up to say sorry.

“This is not acceptable. We should reinstate that service level agreement.”

SNP councillor Kelly Parry said: “It’s not about putting a sticking plaster on it, it’s about getting a long-term solution.”

Green councillor Ian Baxter said: “I have mixed views on this whole issue. We are talking about a very small amount of money on the grand scale of things and it is doing a lot of good. On the other hand, I agree that we have to scrutinise this more.”

Since 1947, respite breaks have been provided for former miners and their dependants at the Lothian Mineworkers Convalescent Home. In the last 15 years this has been provided with the financial assistance of both Mid and East Lothian Councils, and from fund raising.

Of the 200 places offered there each year, 120 are taken by people from Midlothian.