Kemback Street Closure Pushed Through by SNP Councillors

31 October 2012

At the Social Work Committee on Monday 29 October, SNP Councillors used their majority to push through their proposal to close down two key services for adults with learning disabilities; the Kemback Street Resource Centre and the Out and About Service.

Despite well reasoned opposition by the service users represented by three deputations, despite a tabled petition with more than 4000 signatures in support of retaining the Kemback Street Centre, despite the warnings from the combined Labour, Conservative, Liberal Democrat and Independent Councillors, the SNP Councillors ganged up together to close down these services.

 This was my contribution to the debate:

"Convener, we have heard on behalf of a significant number of service users that they are not happy with the outcome of this review.

 "They are not happy with the individualised care programmes that the review recommends and the outcome that Kemback Street Centre and Out and About will close and any remaining group activities will be accommodated at an alternative centre and with alternative agencies.

“I also note that these alternative agencies and services are not directly mentioned, nor described, nor assessed in the committee report.

 “So this is a strange distortion of personalisation, a kind of Alice in Wonderland back to front world, where personalisation leads to unhappy service users who don't get what they want.

“The prescription is this report is perversely justified in terms of what is claimed to be best practice in terms of social work theory for people and what emerging fashion in social work claims is best. 

”Now if all the service users wanted to go with the flow, then elected members would have little to quarrel about. 

“But it is clear from the report, the deputations and the petition that many vulnerable service users are not happy, nor well served, by these changes.

“Additionally, the equality impact assessment referred to in the Committee report was not available in advance of the meeting.

“In fact I was informed in an email from the Council's Chief Legal Officer at 4pm that it was to be put on the Council's website later this afternoon (Monday).

“This is unacceptable.

“Furthermore, the Chief Legal Officer told me that the new Equality Impact Assessment was exactly the same as the previous Equality Impact Assessment which had been written to accompany the Committee Report in March before any of the assessment of needs had been carried out with with service users.

“It is unacceptable that there is apparently no analysis offered in the light of decisions on the planned new services for the service users.

“Checks should have been run to see whether the collective effect of individual assessment of service users' needs is prejudicial under the Equality legislation. 

”It is clear from the briefing that elected members received a short while ago from the Council's Equality Officer that we should have before us data that would allow us to be assured that inequalities in outcome are not prejudicial to a specific  age, race, gender, disability or geographical group.

“From the lack of information and analysis provided in the Committee Report and the absence of the Equality Impact Assessment in advance of the Social Work Committee, I find it is impossible, to give 'due regard' to the potential equality issues as we are required so to do under the legislation.

“Accordingly I support the amendment calling for the retention of Kemback Street Centre and the Out and About service."

I hope the Carers and Parents of the Service users will find ways to continue to assert their preferences for services and to continue their fight for what they  know to be best for their loved ones.