Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Sons of Rest saved

You heard it on my blog first.
In a surprise turn around Sandwell Council announced at the full council meeting this evening that the three Sons of Rest buildings scheduled for closure on 1st November will not now be closed and the other four groups who were going to have to be self funded will continue to be free. The reason given was that Cllr. Horton had listened to the lobby of the Sons of Rest and she did not want to burden our older citizens any more. This on the one hand is good news about the closures but I do not support the groups being funded totally by the council. There are lots of other groups just as deserving who have to be self funded. One of the areas concerned is our ward Newton. Although this is good news the underlying situation remains the same, underused buildings and an organisation with falling numbers. These issues need to be addressed urgently. But first let me turn my attention to the council officers who have been involved with the initial decision. They of course should be considering their positions. I am not convinced the consultations with the groups were done well and I certainly would not want these officers anywhere near anything I was involved with. This also raises some issues with the bigger picture as to who is monitoring the report on the older people’s select committee and also some issues on how many of the older peoples groups are funded. For further information and advice on this consult Bob the Black Country Brummie. We are in need of a comprehensive review. Other groups do get concessions at some of the smaller leisure facilities but the rules and usage of larger leisure centres seem somewhat vague and variable.
Other recent decisions that now need to be looked at: -
Charges during week days for entrance to Sandwell Park Farm,
car parking charges during the week at this farm and finally:-
the massive increase in charges for meals on wheels.
Sandwell Council, you know it makes sense. Let’s see the spirit and letter of the report being addressed properly.


Bob Piper said...

I don't know very much about this, Bob, but the Council is commissioning a widescale review of all of our charges and fees to look at what we do charge for, what we can charge for, what we are not allowed to charge for by statute, and then a political decision will be taken by the Cabinet on our charging policies.

I don't think you need to worry about the same officers doing this because I think the review is to be carried out by an external consultant who can look at what we do and benchmark against best practice.

Nice to see the Deputy Leader and your old mate the opposition Leader enjoying a love-fest at last night's council. Perhaps your comments about the previous undignified behaviour are starting to have an effect.

Bob the Black Country Brummie said...

Doing what I have been I've had to scrounge around for room hire for free if possible so I know where the anomalies lye. There are some good venues particulaly at libraies for the community rooms which are free and some of the smaller leisure centres if the group is likely to fail if it has to pay. The larger ones seem to make up their own rules.