There was anger at Falkirk Council’s Policy Committee when Labour announced that they were discontinuing the long term partnership with the charity Dial a Journey and are to place the service out to tender thus opening the door to privatisation.
Despite news that the charity had improved its running costs and value to the local community Labour actions threaten the very existence of the charity.
SNP Group Leader, David Alexander, moved congratulations to Dial a Journey for their dedication to the provision of service to Falkirk’s disabled community and pledged SNP support for the charity. If the SNP are returned to power next May.
Earlier the committee had heard an impassioned plea from Cathleen Welsh, former chair of the charity and service user. Ms Welsh told Councillors that she only felt safe with Dial a Journey and the private sector could not replicate this.
Ms Welsh’s pleas fell on deaf ears as Labour members moved to withdraw £15,000 funding from the charity and place the service out to tender.
An SNP amendment to extend the existing Service Level Agreement with the organisation was defeated on the casting vote of council leader, Craig Martin after it was tied 4 – 4.
Speaking at the meeting, an angry Cllr Alexander said,
“Labour in Falkirk have adopted the Thatcherite fixation with compulsory competitive tendering and privatisation. What we are seeing is yet another attack on the well-being of the most vulnerable within the community.
This follows hard on the heels of new charges for council homecare, Daycare, MECS and Home Shopping Services that took £1.2m out of the pockets of elderly and disabled people without Labour members even having the decency to blush.”
From April 1 2012, Dial a Journey hours of service will be cut from 7am – 10pm to 9am – 7pm thus robbing hundreds of disabled people from attending events after 7pm.
The service will then be put out to tender with a date of 1 April 2013 for the new service to take over with disabled people also having to pay more for the service.