Councillors and pubic “mis-led” on proposals to close day centres, secret report finds.
A letter from the Director of Social Care to Birmingham City Council’s Health and Social Care Overview and Scrutiny Committee has shown that the committee was misled on controversial proposals to close day centres, including denying the existence of a consultants report that helped shaped those proposals.
An apology from the Director of Social Care says that “officers provided (the committee) with answers which were wrong and other officers failed to take opportunities to correct misunderstandings.” The letter refers to an enclosed report that has not been made been public, even in redacted reform, prompting further concerns about the lack of openness and transparency.
In response, Cllr Matt Bennett (Con, Edgbaston) Shadow Cabinet Member for Health and Social Care said: “The plans of the council to reduce the use of Day Centres, which first appeared in budget plans five years ago are not only ill-conceived but have been shockingly mishandled from the outset, causing unnecessary stress and uncertainty for service users as well as additional costs to tax payers including legal challenges.
“To now find that we were misled over information that helped shape their plans is sadly not surprising but it does further show the contempt for which service users and carers have been held by this administration for the last five years as they have had the threat of closure hanging over them amidst a stream of shifting goal posts and broken promises from a council that consistently fails to listen or be honest.”
The Conservative Group have questioned why the investigation report has not been published. Cllr Peter Fowler (Con, Harborne) said, “The letter and report were sent to the Scrutiny Chair in mid-August but was shared with the rest of the committee only last week. Even now the report itself has not been made public, but I can see no justifiable reason for that to be the case.
“The whole purpose of the investigation was to look into allegations of a cover up, where the public were misled about an issue where trust with the council is already at rock bottom, so it is somewhat ironic they are now attempting to cover up that cover up. The council needs to start to rebuild bridges with the day centre users and carers they have treated so badly for so long, hiding away from scrutiny is not the way to do that.”