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8:30am Tuesday 17th December 2013 in Letters
WORCESTERSHIRE County Council (WCC) has admitted that the proposed closure next June of the Malvern Social Education Centre, in Geraldine Road, and the way its services will then be delivered, represents the biggest change ever in this area for adults with a learning disability.
They are among the most vulnerable in our community and decisions affecting their future need to be made with the greatest care and consideration.
A statutory consultation process is now underway and WCC says it has issued details of meetings to councillors and invited them to attend and listen to the views of those service users, their families and carers.
We are surprised and angered to discover that no county councillor, especially none representing people in Malvern, has apparently attended any of these meetings or engaged with any of those affected. This seems to be symptomatic of the consultation itself, which appears to be more about going through a process of selling a done deal than an open-minded and genuine attempt to discover the best outcomes for the lives of those affected.
We are also concerned that WCC’s cabinet has decided to delegate this vitally important decision to just one councillor and one officer meaning the decision could be taken behind closed doors. We need to be assured that the council is not planning to side-step the proper democratic process while dealing with this highly contentious matter.
We therefore call on Councillor Sheila Blagg, the member delegated to make the decision, to announce that this will be done in public, that she will give those attending at least two hours in which to make personal representations (since there is no need for cabinet discussion), and that she will allow the media to cover the decision.
We also call on all county councillors in the greater Malvern area to issue statements explaining what steps they are taking to engage with the issues and the consultation process.
Tony Barnett, Barbara Ford, RWB Judson, Heather Judson, Rob Goodwin, Elaine Goodwin, Jane Collins, Sharon Webb, Richard Rowan, Barbara Rowan, Eileen Jones, Paul Jones.
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