A COUNCIL has been criticised for leaving vulnerable adults and carers confused and upset during a consultation into social care policy changes.
Lincolnshire County Council launched a 90-day consultation in October on plans to close its day centre services and make care users choose where to spend their public care grant.
The Mercury has been campaigning against the plans. More than 450 readers sent in coupons calling for the council not to close the valued day centres in Ryhall Road, Stamford, and Abbey Road, Bourne.
John Butcher, of Edmonds Close, Stamford, is the vice-chairman of the Northfields Neighbourhood Group which represents up to 1,000 people in sheltered housing in the town.
Mr Butcher attended a council consultation event in Stamford in November. He said the meeting left staff and care users confused.
He said: “A lot of people realised that their own positions would be in considerable jeopardy. All they wanted was an outline of where they would stand.”
Mr Butcher has been trying to set up a meeting between the council’s head of adult social care, Coun Graham Marsh (Con), and day care users and staff so those with questions could get answers. But Coun Marsh was not able to find the time.
Mr Butcher said: “If this is being portrayed as a consultation period then why are they declining to meet people who wish to consult?”
Tracey Byles, 48, of Austerby, Bourne cares for her 23-year-old daughter who is severely disabled. Her petition against the day centre closures gathered more than 850 signatures.
Mrs Byles was disappointed with what she heard at a consultation event in Bourne.
She said: “The council officer couldn’t say what services would be available. People were in tears and there was nothing he could say to them.
“There were no answers because technically it is still hypothetical.”
Mrs Byles met with Stamford and Bourne MP Nick Boles to discuss the issue and Mr Boles agreed to hand over her petition to the county council’s head of adult social services Peter Duxbury.
The council’s commissioning and development officer for adult social care, Mark Rainey, defended the consultation.
He said: “Over 60 sessions were put in place for care users, carers, staff and the public to find out more, many of which were attended by Couns Marsh and Oxby along with county council officers.
“Officers arranged additional meetings and phonecalls for those unable to make the events and have made themselves fully available for discussions with individuals.”
“A great deal of work has therefore taken place over 90 days to ensure everyone fully understands what the consultation is about and how they can contribute.”