Tuesday, 4 March 2008

In for the first time at No 7

Older people and welfare services.
At the last election only the Tories bothered to mention the needs of our older residents and then only fleetingly. When I challenged them they dropped the issue. We oldies are a minority group in that we are only about 25% of the electorate but we do vote regularly and hence are a much bigger electoral group. Ignore us at your peril. Over the last few years we have seen some pretty mean acts carried out by officialdom. I am referring to the introduction of car parking charges for blue badge holders at Sandwell’s hospitals. To the changes that took place to improve the meals on wheels service and to the recent decision to increase these charges by 30% and the concerns there are about the future of luncheon clubs at Tanhouse Centre. None of our councillors or candidates have as far as I know spoken out publicly against any of these measures. Well it’s about time you did. A couple of years ago there was an initiative to increase welfare payments in the ward so that people who were entitled to them got advise on how to get them. This scheme was for a small area only but very successful. I would like to see our candidates campaigning for another scheme that covered the whole ward for families and pensioners whether in Sandwell Homes properties or owner occupiers. The housing office was closed down in Tanhouse and moved to Stone Cross so that it made life more difficult for older people to get advice. It strikes me these changes are made to save money without any consideration of the effects they are having on our community. We need some strong leadership on the council to fight for Newton. Lets hear it. Liberals have been claiming to be a strong voice but if they are then no one has been listening. We used to have a handy man and garden help scheme for older owner occupiers lets campaign to bring it back. You’re all going to be old one day. You know it makes sense.


Bob Piper said...

I can only assume you mean the by-election when you say.. 'at the last election'... Bob, because Labour's General Election Manifesto had a complete chapter about older people.

As for 'none of our councillors spoke out publicly against these decisions' that is just plain wrong. Councillor Linda Turton was extremely vocal about the parking charges (and not just for blue badge holders) at West Bromwich hospital. The issue was called-in by the Scrutiny Management Board (a public meeting at which a number of elderly and patient representatives put their points) and succeeded in getting the hospital to change its charges to make it easier and cheaper for the elderly and disabled. I sat on that Committee and together with my colleagues I was extremely vocal about this, so I cannot accept that allegation.

As for the anti-poverty unit, it is still in existence, it rakes in millions of pounds every year in additional benefits, despite the fact that the Council was ridiculed by the Conservative Party and the tax payers Alliance when we recruited in to the service recently. They described it as "a non-job".

Bob the Black Country Brummie said...

Yes Bob it was the bye election and you are quite right Linda and some others did and I made a big fuss about it. I am referring here to our local councillors in Newton who in my opinion have not supported issues like these. I hope that Dave Hosell will take a more positive lead role. As for labour record nationally I think “more needs to be done”. With respect to the car parking charges, although some concessions were made the general principle of charging disabled patients is to my mind quite wrong. I will continue to campaign to get this changed. Thank you for your comment I only wish our local councillors were more vocal on this blog. With this series of posts I am trying to stimulate debate locally and hopefully encourage more people to participate in local politics it can only be good with a council election approaching.