Hundreds of vulnerable residents, their carers and families have welcomed an 11th hour decision by Harrow Council to retain support-living housing staff under its control.
The charity Harrow Consortium for Special Needs - which merged with Ealing-based not-for-profit organisation Support for Living last year - has been contracted by Harrow Council to run its supported-living homes, which offer round-the-clock care for people with mental health issues or learning difficulties.
Residential staff, however, remain employed by the authority, which for two years had been preparing to ease things by switching them to Support for Living, thus bringing management and employees together.
But campaigners feared that the loss of council control could lead to a deterioration in the quality of the service or even the sale or closure of the homes.
Ann Freeman, voluntary co-ordinator of the Harrow Rethink Support Group, submitted a 112-signature petition calling on the council to halt the transfer, which it did, at a cabinet committee meeting on Friday, July 17.
Mrs Freeman said: "I'm very happy.
Thanks goodness they have come back from the brink.
"The point of the petition was that all the decisions were made in closed session of the cabinet. It was not discussed in public.
"We didn't know anything about Ealing's Support for Living and we had reservations about whether it was the right way to go."
Councillor Margaret Devine, Labour's spokeswoman on adult services, said: "I think it's been a really bold and brave step forward by the council when they were so far down the line.
"The new arrangements were not delivering financially and there were some concerns about how things would work."
A Harrow Council statement said: "A report to the Cabinet on July 17 outlined options for the future of this residential care provision in Harrow, and recommended that the proposed transfer should not proceed.
"Instead it proposed a review of our future requirements for residential care, taking account of the needs and aspirations of adults with learning disabilities and mental health issues, to develop high quality services which would best meet the needs of these service users in the future."
Support for Living's chief executive Nigel Turner called the cabinet decision "very disappointing".
"We think we could have achieved some of the changes the council was looking for," he said.
"We have to maintain the services at arms' length because we don't directly the manage the staff."