Caroline Page, the Lib Dem Suffolk County Councillor for Woodbridge, today accuses the Tories of “riding roughshod over democracy”. The issue is consultation over the future of care homes which she rightly describes as “a sham”.
She describes a meeting last week at which borough and district councils were invited to to “Have Your Say on the Future of Suffolk County Council’s (SCC) residential care homes”. It opened with the portfolio holder for Adult and Community Services saying:
We have made a decision at cabinet level that we will no longer pay for care homes. So if you have come here wanting us to continue running care homes, you’re wasting your time. The decision has already been made.
Read Page’s post. It provides a good example of the lack of democracy at the heart of the county council’s cost-cutting new strategic direction.
A document described as “The New Strategic Direction Explained” uses a meaningless diagram of overlapping circles in an attempt to suggest democracy is at the heart of there scheme.
Under the heading “Democracy” it says:
In the future, the council will continue to make important decisions and as such democracy must remain at the heart of the council. The council’s emphasis on local solutions for local areas places an added importance on the role of all elected members as community leaders. Councillors will be encouraged and supported to work closely with their community to facilitate solutions to local problems and mobilise community involvement.
The diagram does say a lot: Divestment and something called Community Capacity have equal space with Democracy. And the policy for care homes is all to do with Divestment, not Democracy.
I am certainly do not support a policy which has at its heart reducing the pay of care workers. Andrea Hill, Chief Executive of SCC, this week gave as example of the ways in which this policy would be cheaper — while council care homes paid care staff overtime, private ones did not.
Hill herself of course refuses to take a pay cut.