RELATIVES of an elderly widow refusing food following the announcement her care home is to close have spoken of their growing concern.

Jessie Langley, 87, is becoming increasingly ill after the announcement.

And her daughter and son-in-law blame her desperate state of health on West Sussex County Council.

The council is closing Nyewood House, the Bognor residential home where she has lived for the past two years.

Joan Cresswell and her husband Les, of Elm Road, Westergate, near Chichester, say the trauma the county council has put Jessie through has pushed her over the edge.

Today Les, 69, said: "She's not on hunger strike. She's just very upset by what's happened."

Joan, 65, says her mother has spent the happiest two years of her life at Nyewood House.

But Jessie objected bitterly to the planned cost-cutting closure and, along with the other 40 residents of the Hawthorn Road home, she has refused to be moved.

Jessie was admitted on January 2 to St Richard's Hospital, Chichester, where she has taken only small amounts of water.

Dr Chris Furlepa, Jessie's GP, has said she began to behave "oddly" after the closure of Nyewood was proposed last year.

"She withdrew and refused to eat anything," he said. "She would still continue to drink but stopped eating.

"She curled up in her bed and expressed a wish to die."

Nyewood House has been dubbed Fortress Nyewood by residents, who have formed an action group opposing its closure.

The purpose-built home, which opened in 1970, is decorated outside with huge banners expressing the residents' wish to stay.

Jack Smith, 68, who lives at the home and is chairman of the group, said: "This home is beautiful. It's not the Taj Mahal, but it's warm and comfortable and friendly.

"We all want to stay here. We just want to be left in peace by these bureaucrats."

Margaret Bamford, head of adult provider services at West Sussex social services, said there was great concern for Jessie's health but residents had nothing to fear from the move, which would be handled sensitively.

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