5:11pm Wednesday 9th April 2014
PEOPLE might be entitled to ask what exactly is the point of having public consultations and scrutiny committees at Cheshire West and Chester Council if the ruling Conservative executive simply ignore the views of the public or those councillors who scrutinise impartially on the basis of the evidence before them.
The issue I refer to concerns the recent decision to significantly reduce the funding support for community transport for up to 428 adults with a variety of physical and learning disabilities, many of whom attend day centre services in Northwich and Winsford.
Despite the admission that none of these service users’ needs had been re-assessed to help determine whether they could individually manage to travel independently ahead of the consultation, or that the proposed routes themselves risk assessed around safe travel, the decision was upheld.
One case cited revealed an individual with a serious sensory disability would, under these proposed arrangements, be expected to make their own way to a day care centre some six miles away.
They would have to cross two busy roads, catch a train, then catch two buses (one of which did not actually have a bus connection) and repeat the return journey the same way, allowing three to four hours travel time.
Time and time again evidence and witness testimony submitted showed the decision was unsafe.
A public petition with more than 2,300 signatures was simply referred to without following due process and allowing a debate to proceed at full council.
All of this and the many other occasions when the views of the public have been simply dismissed by the ruling group makes a mockery of democracy.
Clr Paul Dolan, Cheshire West and Chester member for Winnington and Castle Ward
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