Residents in Somerset told potential new owner could save their homes

By Rhiannon Yhnell, Dan Ayers & Erin SantilloBBC News
BBC Abbeyfield retirement home signBBC
Abbeyfield said the move comes due to financial pressures

Residents facing the closure of their sheltered living homes have been told the owners may have found another provider to take over the properties.

The Abbeyfield Society, which owns two homes in Wellington, Somerset, has been weighing up whether to upgrade the buildings or close them.

In a letter to residents, it said there is now a "strong" and "credible" option to transfer the ownership of Ivy House and The Old Vicarage.

A decision is expected in January.

The charity had previously said it was under financial pressures but would support residents while it made its decision.

In June the residents of Ivy House and The Old Vicarage launched a petition to fight the possible closures.

Residents sitting in the Ivy House retirement home
Abbeyfield said another provider might take over Ivy House and The Old Vicarage

Councillor Andrew Govier, who represents Wellington on Somerset Council, has been part of a working party looking at the issue.

He said he felt optimistic about the development.

"It looks like someone has come in with a bid which they [Abbeyfield] say is credible and it looks like the homes could continue as they are at the moment," he said.

"We're assuming [the proposal] is from another housing association, they haven't actually said, but it probably is, and the plan would be to [carry on] so the name would change on the door but the residents would continue to be able to live in the homes they love."

Mr Govier said the residents "have been on tenterhooks" since the initial announcement in May that the homes could close.

He added: "In an ideal world, the decision would be made before Christmas so the residents will know and be able to enjoy their Christmas in the sound knowledge they can remain in their homes into next year and beyond."

'Bear with us'

In the letter to residents, the Director of Housing Operations at The Abbeyfield Society, Theresa Wilson, said: "Over the past few months we have been in communication with a vast array of potentially interested parties to look at the different options available to try and find a positive solution."I can confirm that there is a strong, credible option on the table that we very much hope will lead to a successful outcome for residents."

But she added a decision was not expected until the new year.

She acknowledged this was "not ideal" and apologised for the delay.

"We are working as quickly as we can to secure a positive solution for you and ask that you bear with us just a little while longer," she added.

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