Court of Public Opinion

You be the judge

We’ve not really covered Wirral Council’s proposed closure of Girtrell Court because no one had really sought to bring it our attention.

But my- oh -my has has that situation changed with the impending decision to close the respite centre for disabled adults going to Wirral Council Cabinet on Monday (22 February).

Suddenly the heat is on and we’ve been contacted by not only those directly affected by the closure but by some social care insiders with some particularly trenchant views !.

The Leaky Towers viewpoint is that we think the cause is lost.It’s a done deal no matter how many impassioned pleas carers might make. It’s over. The last in-house adult social care service will be  gone forever and it will be a dark day for Wirral Council…..unless of course they perform a spectacular volte-face!.

However the clues have always been there – hidden in plain sight.

Listen to the Director of Adult Social Services Graham Hodkinson at last week’s West Wirral Constituency Committee explain that the closure of Girtrell Court would be a “natural progression” and that the care of vulnerable people is about the  “market”.

Might we suggest that there is nothing “natural” about making vulnerability and disability subject to market forces but then when you’re on a six figure salary the social care market economy clearly works for some people !.

It also strikes us at Leaky Towers that whilst we agree that the NHS is a wonderful thing there has been many a time we’ve sighed as self-righteous politicians of all persuasions brandish their “We Love the NHS” credentials, complain about creeping privatisation and yet think it’s not only OK but desirable to subject our most vulnerable to the mercies of the market. And as we’ve reported previously we’re reliably informed that the social care marketplace on Wirral is dire.

Carers and parents of those who benefit from respite services have been given reassurances that if (or rather when) Girtrell Court closes alternative services will  be an improvement. It’s all about “choice” –  rather like the choice  about having  a personal budget whether you want one or not !. Might we suggest that those reassurances should be considered in the context of Meadowcroft – the last in-house respite service for the elderly which was outsourced to Age Concern.

We think it is particularly significant that only this very week a Care Quality Commission inspection rated the service at Meadowcroft to be INADEQUATE <>

Furthermore and just so we don’t get accused of Labour-bashing the fact that not one but two local union reps ( take a bow Paddy Cleary and Dave Jones) have publicly opposed the closure of Girtrell Court  and have expressed incredulity that a Labour controlled Council would contemplate such a measure points to a wider political debate that needs to be had about what exactly should be the priorities of  the Council.

Now is the time to have a long hard look at the reality behind the rhetoric . A prime example is contained within the flagship Wirral Plan and specifically the pledge about  “…..Ensuring the most vulnerable among us are safe, and feel safe, is perhaps our most important responsibility. We will work across Council and agency boundaries to promptly identify and tackle problems before they develop ” .

How does Wirral Council reconcile “our most important responsibility”  with the closure of Girtrell Court and the courting of celebrity golfers, the feteing of of the Wirral Chamber of Commerce , the wooing of Wirral Waters investors ???.

The proposed closure of Girtrell Court is an ideological decision it is not an economic necessity. An  alleged  annual saving  of £155,000 –  a figure which appears to have been plucked out of thin air as no cost benefit analysis work was undertaken – is nothing in the scheme of things when it comes to council expenditure. This proposal is just the latest instalment by Wirral Council of a relentless campaign to privatise public services.

Forget the 20 pledges in the Wirral Plan. In the court of public opinion there seems to be but one choice for the people of Wirral to make about what should be the Council’s priority – protecting public services or pandering to the private sector. You be the judge as to whether you think they’ve got the balance right.


10 thoughts on “Court of Public Opinion

  1. What happened when Sylvandale was closed by stealth? Where were the unions? Lying down and having their gonads squeezed by the last CEO aka Frank Drebin!

    • And I have every reason to believe that the situation hasn’t changed. With the new CEO being a proponent of market ideology (pile ’em high and charge ’em thru the nose) and being paid £45,000 a year to keep the drawbridge raised. And with Unison laying supine whilst screaming blue murder, feigning ‘support’ and pocketing cash from gullible members…

      …the writing’s on the wall.

  2. Personal budgets ! What are they ? My daughter was on one and now is on direct payments ,difference dictatorship !! What she could do it live a normal life with Carers I’ve trips to cinema or theatre that their tickets were paid for out of her budget GONE ! Now only care paid for ! So GONE is trips out as she can’t afford to pay for them to accompany her ,oh by the way consultation as to changeZERO !!!!!

  3. Sorry just can’t take you seriously. Couldn’t be bothered reading any further than your opening sentence. Yiu have not covered the councils decision to close Girtrell Court because no one brought it to your attention ? And you have your finger on the pulse ?

    • Hi Peggy

      You seem a bit miffed with us for telling the truth. Why so?
      The sad fact is that there was no first hand experience of the Girtrell Court situation or a strong well informed viewpoint that came our way. What’s the point of just re-posting the same stories from the local papers?.
      Wirral Leaks is about political commentary and satire (and leaks!). We don’t deign to comment on matters that we have little knowledge of and we always prefer primary sources.
      However we did actually mention Girtrell Court in a post on 16 January 2016 when we said :
      “We are a big supporter of services for disabled people but so far we’ve only heard from unions,staff,councillors and social services managers.When do the tenants or their advocates get a say ?- and if they do will they have an informed choice about the services they really want?.”

      Finally just to say a) we’ve never claimed to have our finger on the pulse (whatever that means) and b) we don’t seek approval from anyone for what we put or don’t put on this blog.

      Hope that clarifies the matter for you.
      Regards, Julian

      • G’day Leaky

        You sound about one millionth of the anger I feel.

        This (Peggy Thatcher) has the vile nonsense of she who thinks they named a gallery after her (and the Thatcher name to disguise herself) or even the middle aged blow dry girl from the Tories who grew up with pictures of Maggie on her wall at girls private school).

        Definitely a woman.

        If not he should go see someone but not recommend in wirral.



        For they are orrible barstards

        For they are orrible barstards

        For they are orrible barstards

        And so say all of us.

        Luv ya work Leaky XXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXXX

  4. How can Wirral propose an increase in Council Tax by an extra 2% for 2016/17 for Adult Social Care as per the Budget cabinet agenda and then plan to close an establishment like Girtrell Court which cares for Adults. It doesn’t make sense.

  5. Us service users have now been told we have to use a firm called Penderels to do our payroll and advertise for pa,s as they have the contract that’s cost the council money ,no consultation with service users about who they use now ,by all accounts most of us use the same local firm at present but we can’t use them unless we pay ourselves ,they where not invited to tender for that contract ,Penderals are tasked to find us PA,s they are advertising 3 for the whole of Wirral ,when you contact them 1 should have been taken off ,1 doesnt respond and the other can only do 1 night !!!by the way the team is based in Bolton !!!There should be 2 advisors for Wirral one has left they are recruiting as we speak and the other never gets back to you both are based in north wales !!!!

    Yet again shafted ,there is nothing personal in our budgets ,it’s just do as you are told we know best !!!!as to girtrell court ,users are given a list of providers ,we rang that list not one could give us a bed they where all full

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