A cabinet meeting at Durham County Council has voted unanimously to close the five care homes, which remain in its control: at Stanhope, Belmont, Ferryhill, Peterlee and Chester-le-Street.
Councillor Alan Napier, the Vice Chair, said the decision was taken with "a heavy heart" but was necessary in the face of "savage" cuts. However independent Councillor Anita Savory asked if the decision meant money was more important than human life.
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The operation took around three hours to complete, with the remains being disposed of by a specialist animal by-product company.