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From The Socialist newspaper, 20 January 2016

Gateshead carers oppose respite centre closures

Elaine Brunskill, Socialist Part Northern region

For years Gateshead's Labour councillors have boasted they would always protect frontline services for the most vulnerable. That claim is now being shredded as the council looks to close or privatise the Marquis Way and Blaydon Lodge respite centres for disabled adults.

Outside Gateshead Civic Centre, carers of disabled adults, including parents and grandparents, made a phenomenal amount of noise at the protest to save these services. Clerical staff were twitching at office blinds to see what was going on. After about half an hour we were invited inside so council workers could hear our views.

Sleep

The officers listened intently as carers gave numerous examples of their concerns over the council's plans. Parents described bad experiences in the past with private respite provision, largely due to understaffing and high turnover.

In contrast, Blaydon Lodge and Marquis Way were described as "amazing and unique facilities". The same with Grove House, the equivalent children's centre, which is also under threat. It was clear that the staff at these centres are very highly regarded.

These centres mean that for one or two days a month, carers can have time off. When asked what they do with this time nearly all of them replied "catch up with sleep!"

During the course of the meeting, carers highlighted the report in the last Socialist - in Stoke-on-Trent, Tories and independents are using council reserves to fund services. If the Tories can do it, why can't Labour?

On the protest, there was anger that Gateshead Council has recently spent 45,000 revamping the offices of council leader Mick Henry and his cabinet. The feeling was that services for disabled people were more important than swanky offices for bosses.

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In The Socialist 20 January 2016:


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Preparing a no-cuts people's budget

Momentum and democracy in Hackney and beyond

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Celebrating Eleanor Marx's birthday


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Northern Ireland: Defy anti-abortion laws


Socialist Party comments and reviews

Letters to the Socialist


 

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Related links:

Gateshead:

triangleHuge crowd turns out to hear Jeremy Corbyn

triangleSolid strike across the rail network against unsafe driver-only operation

triangleThe Socialist Inbox

triangleStruggling to care against a backcloth of cuts

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Closures:

triangleHealth bosses move goalposts on A&E waiting times: more funds for our NHS now!

triangleFighting NHS and fire services cuts and closures in Merseyside

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Carers:

triangleBlairite Birmingham steps up union-busting and two workforces plan strikes

triangleMajor private care operator puts thousands of vulnerable people at risk

triangleStriking Brum home carers reject 'final' pay cut offer

Council:

triangleGlasgow: huge turnout to fight closure of Whitehill pool

triangleSurrey: save our children's centres

Disabled:

triangleStop Nottingham Labour's cuts to disabled travel!

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