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05 May 2017
Forth Valley Stronger Together

Dozens of people with learning disabilities carried the commonwealth baton in different parts of Scotland as the whole country joined in the build up.  David Tawse—Chair of LDAS carrying the Queen’s Baton in Melrose

But what will happen after the Commonwealth Games for other people with learning disabilities.  We know some people with profound disabilities will be moving to stay in the Commonwealth Village.  The new housing will be adapted to have the right equipment and layout to support some of our most vulnerable citizens.  

But a long running sore in Glasgow concerning the Accord Centre still remains to be sorted.  Despite an energetic campaign, the centre was demolished to build a car and coach park for the 4 week period of the games.  

People who used the Accord moved temporarily to a local community centre and were promised that space would be created in the new Aquatic Centre after the games were finished.  

The Scottish Government said they would put up £150,000 to make this happen.   But now Glasgow City Council say they only agreed to provide enhanced disabled access to Tollcross, which they say has been achieved with the installation of changing facilities, height adjustable benches and electric hoists.   

Council failed to consult properly over day centre closure by not asking specific about particular services due to close.  It was not enough to imply that a new policy might mean some closures says the Court of Appeal 

A county council failed to consult properly about the closure of a day centre, the Court of Appeal has ruled. The case of LH, R (on the application of) v Shropshire Council [2014] EWCA Civ 404 centred on the closure of the Hartleys Day Centre in Shrewsbury.    The claimant (LH) was a 63-year-old user of the centre who had a learning disability and had been assessed as having substantial care needs. Her sister acted as her litigation friend.

Shropshire had decided to close Hartleys after re-thinking the approach to day care in the county. This reconfiguration was partly a result of budgetary constraints and partly followed Government encouragement to give disabled people personalised budgets for spending in relation to their disability.

At issue was the extent of consultation required when a council reconfigures its day services and then decides to close a centre.

  • The local authority argued that it had consulted generally about the new system it was bringing in and had made it clear that some day care centres would close.
  • The claimant, however, argued that she and others should have been consulted in relation to the closure of Hartleys itself before it occurred. It was also alleged that there had been a failure to comply with the public sector equality duty contained in s. 149 of the Equality Act 2010.

On Tuesday 17th September the City of Edinburgh Council looked at the Employability and Skills Disability review.  This is the report that originally put at jeopardy the future of the Engine Shed and raised the prospect of competitive tendering of supported employment in the city.  It has been updated and you can read it here

 The Learning Disability Alliance Scotland took a deputation along to put the case for the Engine Shed and the Real Jobs project.  Sue McLernon explained what a difference the project had made to her daughter.  Chris Johnstone, a trainee at the Engine Shed also was in the deputation.  We made the points that while we have heard from Councillors and Council Staff over the summer that there had been no intention to shut the Engine Shed and the that the council wanted to work cooperatively over future developments,  we were not sure that all the things that we have heard are reflected in the report.

  Our deputation also spoke about how the Real Jobs Project service users had told us how they wanted to keep their service in place too.  How they valued their choice but also how they had been turned down for Direct Payments when they applied.

  Over 14,000 people signed petitions wanting to keep the Engine Shed,  thousands emailing the council and hundreds visiting their councillors,  none of these comments got  into the report. You would have no idea that many people need other ways of getting support than the “place and train” model.  Nor is the fact that despite its own strategy, the  Scottish Government has just made its biggest investment in supported employment for ten years and it wasn’t in “place, train and support in ordinary jobs” but in the Project Search internship model. 

Glasgow City Council is proposing to close three of the existing seven centres Berryknowes, Summerston, Hinshaw Street for people with learning disabilities.   

 

The number of attendees would be reduced from a current 520 to 200.

 

Failures in the Council’s Case.

If there has been a failure to assess, how do the council know what current needs are.

One of the arguments used to justify closure of the centres is that current users have never been properly assessed.  The report states:

1.         Service users with a milder learning disability may be pushed out of all services.

2.         Many community facilities do not have the resources to meet the needs of people with learning disabilities.

3.         People with complex needs will have less opportunity for social interaction.

4.         People with learning disabilities will face prejudice and stigma when they go out to access community-based facilities.

5.         Black and Minority Ethnic service users will face low staff morale, transport, communication and language barriers including prejudice and stigma.

6.         Older BME carers may not ask for help or access social work services.

7.         Service users may not get the right gender of staff to give personal care.