On Thursday 30th April, East Lothian Council’s petition committee heard a delegation from the community campaign arguing for better involvement of people with learning disabilities in the future of the services that support them.
The petition called for a rethink on East Lothian Council’s decision to put housing support services for people with learning disabilities and other support needs out to competitive tender. It asked that East Lothian Council puts this process on hold until those affected have an opportunity to consider alternatives to tendering. The petition was supported by People First, ELCAP Advisory, Smart Talk Ark Housing Participation and the Learning Disability Alliance Scotland. A total of 402 signatures were handed in.
Lorna Wynn who supports the Smart Talk group started by saying ” Many people say they don’t want it to happen. Many others don’t know it is happening. If people see decisions being taken that they are not part of then they feel that all the talk about involvement is just talk. People like consistency and have built up long term relationships. The council may need to save money but it should take the time to think about what was happening and support the people it cares for.”
Robert Auld and Margaret Cessford also spoke to council and Jean Auld did a question and answer session.
There was a robust question and answer session from councillors to Lorna and to council officials present. The councillors listened and thought carefully over what was being said.
The meeting concluded with the following decisions.
- No more action would be taken on tendering specialist services until the lessons from the first stage had been learned and there had been a period of discussion over this.
- The council would seek to ensure that people with learning disabilities “participated” in this process and were not just “consulted.”
- The council would seek to make sure that groups of people who were not normally involved were brought into the process.
- The council would seek to make sure that genuine worries about staff changes were reduced by finding ways to help reduce staff movement.
- Nothing would be ruled out in the process even if it might be difficult to stop the tendering process.