Thursday, 9 January 2014

Your cup of coffee or a day centre place for a disabled person - Your Choice?

There has been a lot of talk about Your Choice Barnet. This is the private company set up by Barnet Council to manage care for disabled adults in Barnet, by Barnet Council. This organisation is implementing savage cuts to services such as day centres for disabled people. Senior managers are on arge salaries, and the orgasation needed a £1 million taxpayer bale out as its business case was flawed last year.

The name Your Choice is a myth. No one has a choice. No one was asked whether they wanted Your Choice, no one has been given a choice when services have been cut. The frontline workers (those who don't sit in the comfy head office) have been informed they have to take a pay cut, they weren't given a choice.

As a result local disabled people have seen a massive deterioration in their quality of life. Maybe you begrudge disabled people a little bit of social life and a little bit of enjoyment, courtesy of your taxes, but if you do, I believe you are in the minority. I happen to think that most people, given the "choice", would happily pay a couple of pounds extra a week to preserve front line services for people who need them to have any quality of life. What does a couple of pounds buy? Not even a coffee at Starbucks. Does it change your life. If you have one every day of the week, would you begrudge those in need in Barnet the one you would have had on Wednesday afternoon to protect services?

In May you have the choice to vote in the Council elections. The choice, "Your Choice", is simple. You can either vote for that couple of pounds to buy you a coffee on a Wednesday afternoon by voting Conservative or you can vote for that couple of pounds to pay towards a disabled person having some quality of life and vote for another party.

Shortly after the last Council election, the then Leader of the Barnet Conservatives announced that "we are all in this together". The next thing they did was announce plans for a 50% increase in alloawances for senior members of the Conservative administration. That was the first major policy decision they made. Allowances for Councillors (there are 63 in Barnet and most do absolutely nothing) costs over £1 million a year. They all get free phones and computers, yet some of them have regularly deleted emails I have sent them, marked as urgent, without even reading them.

I have to say with a heavy heart, I don't believe Labour will do a significantly better job than the Tories if they get in. They have done a poor job of being an opposition, but at least they will not be completely self centred in the way this greedy administration have shown themselves to be. If I was a Tory, I would abstain at this election, simply because the local Party needs a good kick up the backside for its total mismanagement of the Boroughs finances, as exposed by the Barnet Eye last week (revealing the Barnet Council risk register). If we don't punish politicians when they fail, they never learn. I left the Labour Party in 2009 because I thought they'd lost their way under Gordon Brown. I am not sure they have improved at all, but in the Council elections, if nothing else, they offer a change from a failed administration.

Democracy only works if we all get engaged and we all think about the decisions we make. Not a single Tory has offered me a shred of evidence that this administration has a grip on the issues. It is time for someone else to have a go.

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