Page last updated at 16:40 GMT, Saturday, 24 May 2008 17:40 UK

Legion home under closure threat

Crosfield House in Rhayader
Crosfield House is one of the biggest employers in the area with 80 staff

The only Royal British Legion home in Wales looks set to close over money problems.

Crosfield House in Rhayader, Powys, is home to 50 elderly ex-servicemen and others, but a forecast 500,000 deficit could force it to shut its doors.

The Royal British Legion said Powys Council needs to pay 30% more for its residents at the home but it says it cannot meet such financial demands.

Unions claim closing the home would also lead to the loss of 80 jobs.

The legion said the deficit is due to increased maintenance costs, under occupancy, the low rates paid by Powys Council and a higher number of local authority-funded residents.

The home has been in operation for 20 years and its specialist dementia unit has been praised for its work with residents - half of whom are funded by Powys Council.

The legion is committed to staying in Rhayader and is willing to commit up to 5m to invest in a new home
Royal Brisith Legion welfare director Sue Freeth

Anna Goss's father is a resident at the home and she said he had "absolutely thrived" during his time there.

"We think his life has been extended by at least three years because the staff are exquisite," she said.

On Friday, relatives of the residents and staff met Royal British Legion officials where they discussed the home's future.

A 30-day consultation period has now begun where both parties have been asked to put forward suggestions for saving the home.

Their ideas will be passed on to the home's board of trustees who will discuss the findings at a meeting on 26 June.

The legion's welfare director Sue Freeth said: "The legion is committed to staying in Rhayader and is willing to commit up to 5m to invest in a new home.

'Simply unrealistic'

"But the arrangement would have to be that after we have made that investment of charitable funds that the authority would be willing to pay the fees."

However, Powys Council has said the proposed 30% rise in fees is "simply unrealistic" and is due to meet on 3 June to discuss and review its officers' recommendations on the use of the home.

Crosfield House is one of the area's main employers and there are fears that the workers would find it very difficult to find jobs elsewhere.

Speaking on behalf of the staff, GMB union official Rob Gibbs said: "This is one of the biggest employers in the area.

"It's a rural area, there's not many jobs around and the members of staff here - if they lose their jobs - would find it very difficult to find any other employment."

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