Wednesday, 18 December 2013

Petition panic

Carmarthenshire Council seems to have got itself into a bit of a lather over a 38 Degree petition to 'Save Carmarthenshire's Disabled Children's Respite Services' . The petition, which raised over 1000 signatures in twenty four hours urges the council not reduce respite care centres for children with profound needs.

The council, in panic mode, resorted to the propaganda department to counter this subversive direct action. Petitions are not welcome and must conjure up images of peasants and pitchforks in the minds of the County Hall junta. Apart from the glorious Leader's petition of course, which concerned the power cables from Brechfa wind farm, to which the council put a handy link.

Today's council press release doesn't provide a handy link but warns us that the proposal (to axe £200,000 from these services) is only a proposal, not a done deal. Fair enough, but it's on the cards and unfortunately the public are not quite so trusting as they once were and have developed something of a sceptical view of Carmarthenshire's consultations.

After all, it was only last month at an Executive Board Member meeting for Regeneration, (ie Meryl and several officers, public and press excluded) decided as per usual to spend tens of thousands in grant money on hot tubs, double glazing etc at various private properties to 'strengthen tourism'. Over £300k was also granted at the same meeting for redundant buildings and farm diversification applications.

What was disturbing was that an application from the Friends of Blaenau Children's Centre, (one of the two council owned respite centres which feature in the petition), for a grant from the council-administered Welsh Church Fund was "regrettably refused in light of current consultation on the future provision, in Carmarthenshire, of services such as that provided by the Centre"
It would seem that to ensure its survival, the Centre should probably rebrand itself as a tourist destination and consider installing a hot tub.

The council Twitter account also came under pressure today and had to veer from its usual bland content, eg driving tips (it's raining, be careful) to deal with tweeting residents shocked at the amount of money which has been channelled to County Hall's favourite rugby team, particularly after the BBC revelations.

Some were suggesting this was unfair on other struggling sports organisations and another suggested it would be better spent providing respite care for disabled children.

Undaunted, the press release mentioned above duly appeared on the council website to 'clarify' the situation over the respite centres and, as for the rocketing charges for non-Scarlets activities, these were 'unrelated to the Scarlets loan'.

Nonsense, of course it's all related, and the tweeting residents weren't just referring to the loan. We understand that there are different pots of money, alternative funding channels, capital and revenue expenditure and all that jazz, but in the end  it's all about prioritising and allocating a diminishing amount of resources to protect the vulnerable and maintain frontline services.

Carmarthenshire council, as ever, has a different world view and appears to have ring-fenced the Scarlets, the Department of Spin and of course the funding of its many and varied legal expenditures....


Cneifiwr said...

A superb post. You're on top form! Do we have the makings of a peasants' revolt? It seems that more people are finally waking up to what is going on.

Anonymous said...

I hear that the Director of Social Services in Carmarthenshire is retiring?