CAMPAIGNERS fighting for elderly care in Swanage have begged officials to save James Day Care Home from the wrecking ball.

James Day Action Group members, who seized their opportunity to address Dorset County Council’s scrutiny committee yesterday, wanted an assurance that the county was “seriously considering” refurbishing the empty building.

It may be too late for the 22 elderly residents, who were moved out after closure was announced in January, but campaigners say it is not too late for future residents.

However, they fear the county has already made its mind up and favours demolishing the building.

Action group secretary Vanessa Baume said: “With Dorset County Council’s decision that they cannot run the council-owned James Day home, as they do in Wareham, we are concerned that the cabinet may already have a preferred agenda.

“We would like an assurance that refurbishment, alteration and extension of the existing building to reinstate a care home will be given serious consideration, as it is the only option that meets with the current urgent needs of elderly residential care provision for Swanage and the surrounding villages.”

Committee chairman Cllr Trevor Jones said: “Refurbishing and reopening the care home on the site will be one of the options for the future.”

The council has now formed a joint planning group that includes representatives from the James Day Action Group, to plan for the future at the site.

Steve Clements, the county council;s acting director for adult and community service, told the committee: “The closure of James Day Care Home in Swanage has caused considerable anxiety locally, and it is clear that the local community are very keen to be involved in the future planning for alternative care provision in the town.”

Care South, which ran James Day, gave three months notice to close after a 30 per cent rent increase from landlords Dorset County Council.

This increase – fixed by an independent body – came as James day made annual losses of £200,000 and followed a 14 year rent freeze.

Earlier this year county chiefs ruled against taking over the running of the home.