Councillor’s call to arms over day care centre cuts.
‘MAKE your county councillor hear you’ is the message ahead of a crunch challenge tomorrow (Thursday) to the controversial decision to close council-run care homes and day care centres across Devon.
People are being urged to lobby their local county councillor ahead of the special Peoples’ Scrutiny Committee meeting at County Hall in Exeter tomorrow at 2pm.
But there was fury after it emerged no members of the public would be able to speak at the meeting, which was confirmed after
Liberal Democrat and non-aligned county councillors have ‘called in’ the Conservative-led cabinet’s decision.
Frank Biederman, independent county councillor for Fremington Rural, has urged people to lobby their own county councillor for support.
He told the Gazette committee chairman Sara Randall Johnson had said she was not prepared to allow worried friends and relatives to have their say at the meeting:
“They’re refusing to let the public speak or call witnesses,” he said.
“I am mad about it, because if we can’t ask professional witnesses what the impact will be on the families affected, how can we make a judgement?
“It’s not democracy as I know it. It’s not how local government should be run – it should be about the people they represent, not their political masters.”
The cuts will see Beech House in South Molton; Burrow House in Ilfracombe; Lydiate Lodge at Lynton; Fairlea in Northam; and Oakwell in Bickington close, with residents forced to seek care from the private sector.
Of 11 North Devon day centres, five will go – Springfield and Quayside in Bideford; Beech House in South Molton; Burrow House in Ilfracombe; and a hub at the Plough in Torrington.
Oakwell in Bickington, and Barnstaple-based Rosebank, Silverhill, Tarka and Greenfields will be retained as a new ‘integrated service’ at a site still to be decided.
The future of the Oasis day centre in Barnstaple is still unclear.
Mr Biederman added: “They call it ‘Tough Choices’, but to me we are going for the easy targets and the most vulnerable. I would urge my Conservative colleagues to actually stand up and serve those who elected them.”
But Councillor Stuart Barker, the council’s cabinet member for adult social care, said a phased closure of homes and day centres over the next 18 months was the ‘only way’ the authority could plug a £200million Government funding gap.
He said: “Nothing will happen immediately. This is a process that will take time and we will do this with great care and sensitivity.
“In taking the decisions I want to ensure that everyone who is entitled to have a service from us gets it, be it residential care or a day service, and that they will continue to receive a service that meets their needs.”
Find your local county councillor by going to https://new.devon.gov.uk/democracy/councillor