Councillor’s anger over budget cuts

A COUNCILLOR has spoken out against Derbyshire County Council’s plans to cut adult services and axe youth clubs.

Cllr Steve Flitter, from Matlock, attacked the council’s well-documented proposals to close council-run youth centres and try to reduce the costs of services that affect adults.

Cllr Fitter, who sits on Matlock Town Council, Derbyshire Dales District Council and is leader of the Liberal Democrat group at Derbyshire County Council, said: “During last year’s budget, adult care was cut by £12 million, this year they are taking another £10 million.

“I do not think with the growing need and changing health care we can afford to do that.

“You can only cut a certain amount before it affects services.

“With what is happening to the youth service, what the council is doing is a fait accompli.”

A ten-week consultation is continuing at County Hall over the future of youth services, with proposals to close council-run youth clubs and alternatively offer support to community groups to provide activities.

The council says youth clubs are expensive to run, less than a third of teenagers have ever made contact with them and the way youth services are delivered was due for review after decades unchanged.

The consultation ends on March 18 and people still have the chance to log onto www.derbyshire.gov.uk/youthservice2012.

To request a paper copy of the consultation questionnaire contact Bish Sharif on 01629 535700 or email bish.sharif@derbyshire.gov.uk

Meanwhile, despite being unhappy with millions being slashed from the adult services budget, Cllr Flitter did welcome the news that Derbyshire County Council’s cabinet has given the green light to forge ahead with the £200 million plan to completely transform care for the elderly, although he still expressed caution.

The scheme could involve closing more than 20 council-run care homes in favour of 1,600 state-of-the-art one and two-bedroomed apartments available to buy and rent.

It will also include the opening of a £9 million care centre next to the Whitworth Hospital in Darley Dale.

It will provide long-term care for up to 16 dementia sufferers and a further 16 beds for respite and intermediate care.

It will be built on the land directly adjacent to the Whitworth Hospital, which is currently owned by the NHS, but as part of the deal will be sold to Derbyshire County Council.

Cllr Fitter added: “I absolutely 100 per cent support it and it’s to be applauded that we will get the new facility at Darley Dale.

“In saying that, there may be people who may not want to leave care homes for various reasons, they may be too infirm.

“We have got to be very careful and respect people’s wishes.”

The council insists no decision will be made on individual homes until a full consultation takes place for each.

The first nine homes earmarked will be looked at in the coming months to see if each home is suitable for redevelopment.

None of those proposed are in the Matlock area.

However, the council says it will look at the Gernon Manor residential home in Bakewell in the coming years.

It is suggested that the home could be converted into a centre for people with learning disabilities.

Cabinet member for adult care, Cllr Charles Jones, said: “We realise there will be disruption for people and we will do everything we can to minimise this and support people through any changes.

“Our plan is ambitious, imaginative and innovative.”