Devon cuts ‘shame’ as meeting comes to nothing

11:22 21 May 2014

Kelly Spurway and Jasmine Ovey from Georgies Youth Centre in Barnstaple, discuss their concerns over the future of the service with North Devon Councillor Frank Biederman.

Kelly Spurway and Jasmine Ovey from Georgies Youth Centre in Barnstaple, discuss their concerns over the future of the service with North Devon Councillor Frank Biederman.

Archant

County councillors condemned from public gallery as extraordinary meeting fails to derail proposals to cut services.

" I firmly believe a lot of the evidence is flawed"

Cllr Frank Biederman

CRIES of ‘Shame!’ showered upon Devon’s county councillors after a special meeting failed to halt the public service cuts juggernaut.

A packed public gallery looked on at County Hall in Exeter during the three-hour summit to discuss proposed cuts to care homes, day care centres, libraries and youth centres.

Five amendment motions were put forward by opposition councillors but all were defeated.

These included calls for consultation to be extended; that decisions be taken in public; and that services in various areas should continue or be given time so alternative arrangements could be made.

"We can no longer salami slice and there are no services which will not have to be reviewed – we have got to get on with the changes and come back with the reports."

Cllr John Hart, Devon County Council leader

Wednesday’s extraordinary meeting had been called after Liberal Democrat councillors invoked council rules, because they say decisions were being taken ‘behind closed doors’.

Gunn resident Pat Hanlon told the Gazette that when they arrived around 20 people had been locked out of the chamber and told there was not enough room, but after ‘some considerable commotion’ and refusing to leave, they were allowed in and most found a seat.

Attending the meeting with a delegation from North Devon, county councillor for Fremington, Cllr Frank Biederman, said he was among those ‘disappointed’ at the decision.

“I firmly believe a lot of the evidence is flawed,” he said.

“The decision needs to based on sound evidence as it affects the most vulnerable people in our society.”

Among those who addressed the meeting was Amanda Walker whose father is at Charlton Lodge in Tiverton. She said the proposals to close residential homes were ‘financially unsound and inhumane’ and called on the council to withdraw them.

“You should also remember that you are dealing with peoples’ lives here,” she said.

“Elderly, vulnerable people, very few of whom are even capable of making their own representations in this matter. The terrible thing is that they assume there is no point in making a fuss, because politicians aren’t interested in people like them.”

Consultation on care homes, day centres and youth services are now closed, with a children’s centres consultation to end on June 6 and libraries on July 17.

Council Leader John Hart has said the council must save £27million from this year’s budget and is faced with cutting £49 million next year, which would have meant a nine per cent council tax rise this year and 18 per cent the next.

Cllr Hart said he wanted to thank the public and his colleagues for giving their advice, but added: “We have listened and watched. But we have to get on with this.

“If we extend the consultations then we will be delaying even more the opportunity to lay down a direction of travel.

“We can no longer salami slice and there are no services which will not have to be reviewed – we have got to get on with the changes and come back with the reports.”

The defeat of all motions by the Conservative majority prompted Barnstaple councillor Brian Greenslade to claim it was ‘an affront to democracy’.

“The outcome is deeply disappointing and a clear signal that democracy is dead at County Hall,” he said.

“I am grateful to the public who came and made their views known. The Tory leadership whipped their members into ignoring all representations and confirming that only Tory cabinet members will take decisions about day centres, residential homes and the Youth Service.”

But Barnstaple Conservative Cllr John Mathews said he had understood it was to be a meeting to hear views, with no proposal on the table.

“They were voting on amendments without knowing what the results of the consultation were going to be. When the proposals are put forward, that’s the time to do your voting,” he said.

Related articles

Other News Stories

An artist's impression of how the food and retail area of Anchorwood Bank will look once completed

The fashion retailer will be expanding its presence in the town with a 10,500-square-foot shop

Read more
Yesterday, 11:48
The former Leaderflush Shapland factory in Barnstaple. Picture: Andy Keeble

Oliver Buildings are Grade II listed in recognition of their architectural or historic interest.

Read more
Yesterday, 08:00
Aaron Hunt is off to the prestigious Bird College this month.

Marwood teenager is off to top drama school this September

Read more
Thu, 15:57
It was a full house at Torridge District Council's plans committee today (Thursday).

Torridge District Councillors have refused plans for 200 new houses - despite officers recommending Heywood Road plans for approval.

Read more
Thu, 15:22
Westward Ho! teenager Yazzy Chamberlain is releasing an album

Yazzy holding launch event for ‘Silly boys breaking hearts’ on Sunday

Read more
Thu, 14:40
Bideford's Torridge Bridge.

The 82-year-old from Fremington suffered with depression but inquest heard his death came as ‘complete shock’.

Read more
Thu, 14:24
Chelfham Mill. Picture: Nicholas Mutton

Principal says private school will looks to re-register once police investigation is complete.

Read more
Thu, 13:03
Mark and Emma Smale with Imogen and her sister Evie. Picture: Sarah Howells

Friends and family are hoping to raise £9,000 to buy a water therapy unit for young Bideford girl with life-limiting illness.

Read more
Thu, 09:18
This year's festival at Castle Hill was a wet and muddy affair

July’s wet weather left Castle Hill in ‘worst condition for 26 years’

Read more
Thu, 08:05
Angelina and Patrick Montague outside of the new Monty's Caribbean Kitchen restaurant.

New Barnstaple restaurant will bring a taste of the West Indies to Barnstaple.

Read more

Local Weather

Partly Cloudy

Partly Cloudy

max temp: 16°C

min temp: 7°C

Most Read News

Great British Life


Great British Life

Advertise in the paper
Submit a Story
Subscribe to the paper
Competitions
North Devon Football League
Order Photos
Family notices
iwitness24
Facebook
Twitter
Google Plus Page
Reader Travel

Family Notices 24

Digital Edition

Image
Read the North Devon Gazette e-edition today E-edition


North Devon's trusted business finder