What did Bernard Halley tell Wirral councillors about a 7,000+ petition against the closure of Girtrell Court?
Council (Wirral Council) 11th July 2016 Agenda item 4B (Petitions) Petition of over 7,000 requesting Council halt closure of Girtrell Court
As you can hear in the video above, Bernard Halley had five minutes to address Wirral Council’s councillors on the subject of his petition requesting that the closure of Girtrell Court be halted.
“….” refers to parts which are unclear due to his distance from the microphone and background noise. DASS stands for the Department of Adult Social Services.
Benard Halley said, “Thank you Mr. Mayor. I would like to take this opportunity to address the issues in this petition.
The petition that we refer to is on on change.org and it is about the closure of Girtrell Court.
The current statistics which have been very carefully balloted are 4,778 Wirral postcode signatures, 2,211 UK wide signatures and a 101 worldwide signatures, so it’s getting quite a bit of notoriety.
I would say at this stage that I have absolutely no political affiliation whatsoever, so I’m not grinding any of the traditional axes in this room.
In fact, I don’t want to be here. I don’t want, I don’t relish being regarded as a troublemaker, I would much rather support DASS in all their endeavours but this is an issue of principle that has to be followed through.
You are closing a service which whilst not perfect, enjoys the full confidence of parents and carers against their clearly expressed wishes.
Confidence that is held in Girtrell Court is vital when you ask us to entrust our loved ones to a third party.
Your process so far as carers are concerned have been flawed from the start. You decide an end product closure and then work backwards to find a solution that fits.
We find no evidence whatsoever that users called for change. We have objectively polled Girtrell Court users using an open question poll document and their data contradicts the …. . I challenge the Council to make full disclosure of their case to the scrutiny committee for independent evaluation.
Mr Phil Davies has repeatedly used the phrase, “equal or better”. That begs the question who decides what is equal or better? Surely it should be the users of the service?
Well Mr Davies you are a long way from equal to or better at the moment.
You have a potential building and a potential service provider. You do not have a service specification and terms of the contract which is absolutely vital for carers. We want to know that this is not a flash in the pan. There is no comparable staffing ratio data. There is no confirmation that users will have equal to time allocation, there is no information on the range or extent of user activities necessary to equal Girtrell or is this new service going to be just a baby sitting service?
In short you do not have or are far from the complete package which will enable anyone to evaluate equal or better.
Recent correspondence and press releases including emails from your Chief Executive claim that the closure decision has been made in partnership with carers. This is categorically untrue.
None of the carers have agreed to the closure of Girtrell Court.
Carers, including myself have often argued on the comparative virtues of three properties and provider combinations but with the sole motivation of ensuring any alternatives that originated was the best out of the limited choice available.
This was not and is not an agreement or approval for Girtrell Court closure.
The property chosen has some virtues but and this is a big but, the …. is on three floors and even with a lift there are concerns over evacuation capability in the event of a fire.
I am told that one of the principal reasons for closing Maplehome was an identical concern over evacuation capability.
Please do not use this as a Tory versus Labour slanging match which has characterised every debate on Girtrell.
Both propositions have occurred under the remit of DASS, so why is what was unacceptable then suddenly acceptable now?
I come to timescales. We were told at the start that the end of March was unachievable. My position cited the end of September as a possible appropriate date.
Now work on the property is unlikely to be completed by the end of November at best and only then can the Care Quality Commission’s approval be sought. So even with a fair wind, it might be the end of December it seems optimistic.
This ill-managed project has caused worry, distress and concern not only to service users, but to their carers. Many of whom are much older than I, have greater burdens to carry and who do not need Wirral Borough Council subjecting them to 9 months or more of added stress.
We come back to the starting point, you should have and could have used this financial year to plan and a design for a replacement service, while allowing users the confidence that Girtrell will continue seamlessly until an equal to or better than service can be constructed.
Instead, you reverse engineered a flawed solution which does this Council and its officers no credit whatsoever.
The petition has attracted over 7,000 signatures.
If you should ignore this level of public support moreover to do so by muscling your own councillors using a three line whip to stifle those points of view with compassion and conscience is a travesty of democracy for which this Administration should be truly ashamed.
(loud applause and cheers from the public gallery)
The bare minimum for the hard pressed carers should be afforded is consultation on the full package solution as I identified earlier.
If I may read a portion of the petition because it is pertinent, “Our demand is simple, retain the excellent Girtrell Court and its professional caring staff until the Council has researched carer and cared for needs, analysed, researched, costed and fully consulted on the suitability of any replacement offering.”
Solution before dissolution! Thank you for your time.
(loud applause and cheers from the public gallery)”
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