JOHN BIGGS has been at it again – closing down facilities which serve some of the most vulnerable members of the community in Tower Hamlets. It is a move which saw users of Council day care centres stage a public protest last Friday.
In his Budget, the Executive Mayor John Biggs declared that the Pritchards Road Mental Health Day Care Centre in Bethnal Green should close, along with the Riverside Centre and the day opportunities centres which provide dementia care and facilities for adults with physical disabilities. The move has been supported by Labour Councillors.
As he wielded the axe on these valuable services, Biggs said that the Council would introduce “targeted provision” to replace the centres. What “targeted provision” means is not yet clear to the public – but it obviously is not intended to be a nice place where people can come together for support. Campaigners hope that it will not be the same kind of “targeted provision” offered to one service user when the Council decided to close the Meals on Wheels Service – which consisted, his daughter reported, of telling him where the nearest shops were.
The Council says that their new “targeted provision” will be delivered by specialist workers.
•Who will they be? The committed and specialist workers who have delivered the service to date and who have built up relationships with vulnerable service users will be made redundant. Will the Council be recruiting new specialists? Why doesn’t it just keep the old ones? Or is the “targeted provision” not delivered by humans?
•Where will the new specialists do their work? The places where the old specialists used to work will have been closed down because the Council doesn’t think they are needed. Will the targeted provision be delivered over the phone? Or… where?
Is this the way the national Labour Party wants us to care for the vulnerable members of society? Perhaps it is. In his “Plan for a Just Society”, Keir Starmer wrote, “Anyone trying to access mental health or social care services faces an agonising process causing human suffering.” He must have been thinking about Tower Hamlets.
The decision to cut the centres is due to be reviewed by the Council’s Overview & Scrutiny Committee on Monday – when some Labour councillors will consider whether the decisions of other Labour councillors should be kept or changed.
●Read more about the Biggs Administration:
Executive Mayor John Biggs
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