THE future of a care home will be debated in Westhoughton after a town council u-turn.

Westhoughton councillors were initially told that any discussions of Winifred Kettle Community Care Centre would be illegal as the town council was not an official consultee on plans for the scaling back of services.

Town councillors had requested that the loss of intermediate and respite care at Winifred Kettle be included on the agenda for their January 13 meeting.

But Westhoughton Town Council responded by saying it would be acting in an “illegal manner” if they discussed it, sparking fury from members.

Officials in Westhoughton contacted Margaret Asquith, director of adult services at Bolton Council, who has now formally made the town council a consultee.

Cllr David Wilkinson, for Hoskers and Hart Common, who originally asked for Winifred Kettle to be debated, said: “It just goes to show I was right in the first place I’m afraid.

“We have had to go through a big song and dance just so we get to what should have happened in the first place.

“It is daft that the town council cannot discuss things that affect the town.”

The Mayor of Westhoughton, Cllr Christopher Peacock, who is also Bolton Council’s cabinet member for adults and social care, said the misunderstanding arose as health matters did not usually fall under the town council’s purview.

He said: “The town clerk was right in what she said as the town council is not a statutory consultee on health matters.

“Sharing the concerns that local people and town councillors had raised, we then approached Bolton Council which had no issue with making us a consultee.”

The consultation period on Bolton Council’s revamped care provision, which includes the closure of Firwood House in Crompton Way as well as the scaling back of operations at Winifred Kettle, ends on February 3.

A petition in Westhoughton calling for the retention of Winifred Kettle in its current form has attracted hundreds of signatures.

Councillors will debate the issue at Westhoughton Town Council’s next meeting on Monday. Mrs Asquith will also make a presentation to members.

Bolton Council declined to comment.