THE vulnerable must never give up the fight against proposed cuts, says a campaigner for older people.
Coun Pat Witherspoon made a rallying call to the people of Worcestershire, young and old, to take a last stand against controversial cuts which opponents have said will drag the county back to the dark days of Dickens.
Worcestershire County Council is proposing to slash spending on so-called ‘discretionary’ services for older people, the homeless, mental health, learning disabilities and other services from £15 million to £6.5 million, as part of plans to save £98 million by 2017.
The consultation on the proposals, under the name Future Lives, ends on Tuesday, January 21, with a decision expected to be announced in February, taken by three county council cabinet members – Marcus Hart, Sheila Blagg and Liz Eyre.
Coun Pat Witherspoon, a Redditch district councillor and chairman of the town’s Older People’s Forum, urged people to fill in the consultation document online or on paper as soon as possible when she spoke to a meeting of the Worcestershire Partnership of Older Peoples Forums, at Perdiswell Young People’s Leisure Club, Worcester.
Coun Witherspoon said: “We have got to fight hard to get our message across. That’s why we have got to get these things (the consultation forms) filled in.
“I’m not going to give in. I have worked my life, all the way up. I was born in a council house. This is not just about older people. It’s about families and young carers.”
Brian Hunt, vice-chairman of Worcestershire Pensioners Action Group, said: “What is going to happen to all these vulnerable people?
“Nowhere can we find anyone who will say what is going to happen to these lovely people.
"We know where the money was coming from and what it was doing. It wasn’t providing saunas and holidays. It was providing for our most vulnerable in society. They’re being abandoned.”
Mr Hunt has been particularly outspoken about the loss of a £630,000 grant to Worcester Community Housing, which helps provide a warden service in sheltered accommodation.
Coun John Smith, cabinet member for highways, said: “What people need to understand is that resources coming from the centre are greatly reduced because the country is bankrupt, like it or not.”