THE last publicly owned care home in East Renfrewshire could close its doors for good if a new buyer cannot be found.

East Renfrewshire Council officers were left scrambling to find a new buyer when the preferred bidder scrapped his deal to take over the 28-bed home last month.

The community had been vehemently opposed to the sale of the facility, fearing jobs and care service levels would be put at risk.

At a meeting of the full council on Thursday last week, it was revealed that there were now no bidders at all for the care home – and that if one could not be found then the centre faced closure.

In a “cruel” announcement, councillors voted to release additional funding for the beleaguered facility – only to buy time for its sale.

Councillor Allan Lafferty, for Busby, Clarkston and Eaglesham, and convener for social work and health, said: “Bonnyton has been a hard pressed matter, but the facts that remain that under the current financial pressures for Bonnyton are between £636,000 and £703,000.

“If we didn’t have additional funding we would require to make savings equivalent to 17 newly qualified social workers or 83 home care packages for the cost of being able to return 28 care spaces.

“There are spaces out there in the independent and private sector to accommodate our needs.

“I am pleased to see that the funding is being put forward to retain Bonnyton over the next year to allow us to find another bidder – currently there are no bidders.”

Cllr Lafferty’s next comments elicited loud gasps from the opposition councillors and some in the public gallery, as he suggested that the home could be closed entirely.

He continued: “We face a difficult decision if another bidder can not be found, and I have to say that already my NHS colleagues are asking that we include looking at closure as a possible option.

“That is something that none of us wish to do.”

Cllr Lafferty went on to cite funding difficulties faced by the NHS which has already voted to close one hospital, and that the health service would have “little sympathy” towards plight of Bonnyton home.

His comments were supported by council leader Jim Fletcher.

But the leader of the opposition Tory councillors has branded the move “cruel”, saying a proposal offered by Tory councillors and the community would have returned Bonnyton to a financially viable state, in council ownership.

He said: “They are using £426,000 to keep Bonnyton House open for another year yet Cllr (Jim) Swift gave them accurate figures on how to make Bonnyton pay for itself and actually make money.

“Cllr Lafferty was then heard to say that they would continue to try to sell Bonnyton and if they couldn’t get a sale, they would then close the community facility.”

“And this is in the face of three new care homes being built in the area.

“Incredibly, Cllr Fletcher agreed with Cllr Lafferty and said that because it’s only a 28-bed care home, it is too small to use economies of scale.

“What utter rubbish.”

The previous sale fell through after Mr Puneet Gupta walked away from investing in Bonnyton House Care Home at the last minute in January, just weeks after ERC had approved the sale.

Mr Gupta has blamed local media outlets for the deal falling through, citing “inaccurate” reports that made his position “unsustainable”.