Labour councillor’s contempt for care centre users

On 30 September Ealing Labour councillor and adult social services portfolio holder Jasbir Anand was invited to the Albert Dane Centre (ADC). The service user committee and staff wanted to ask her questions on the proposed closure of the centre. The ADC is a day centre for adults with a physical disability or sensory impairment.

Lydia Dalton, Ealing Unison children and adult services convenor (personal capacity)

Councillor Anand was greeted at the centre’s gates by service users holding up banners. They had been instructed not to place them on council property. They chanted slogans including “hands off our centre” and “no cuts to frontline services”.

Service users, carers, staff and independent people from the community packed the hall to question and listen to Councillor Anand. Service user group chairperson Val Garrard read out a series of questions that other users had asked her to put forward. Anand was attacked for ducking several questions.

Anand said that the: “Private and voluntary sector would do a better job of providing the service they require than ADC staff.” This was met by gasps from the staff who stood at the back of the room.

The local pastor put forward a financial proposal to keep the centre open. He spoke of the myth that the voluntary sector would have capacity to cope with the demand and said that the councillor needed to be more honest. To this Councillor Anand shouted at him and said: “Don’t you dare call me a liar. You have attended my surgeries in the past. I have tried to help you out. I won’t help you anymore.”

Anand’s aggressive behaviour was met by a tirade of anger from users who spoke passionately about their need for the service.

Having had my hand up for 40 minutes, service users forced the council official who was chairing to let me speak. However, Anand heckled and said “I’m not interested in talking to the unions” while refusing to answer my question.

Councillor Anand’s apparent contempt for staff, users and carers didn’t end there. She was unfazed by the hostile reaction from the crowd and defiantly replied: “I own half of Southall. I’m very popular. I got voted in so at least a few people must like me.”