“We got 52% of the vote last year” said Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con) – the Leader of H&F Council “so of course it’s up to us to choose to do this” he added justifying his mandate for cutting home care services to 550 elderly, sick and disabled local residents last night.
Then, despite admitting to having seven briefings prior to last night’s cabinet meeting, Cllr. Antony Lillis (Con) the cabinet member for social services said that he hadn’t asked officials about what other options the service users would have once the service is cut; he said he had not asked about the service users’ socio-economic profiles and seemed shocked to be told during the meeting that the users of the home care service were largely poor. Cllr. Lillis said that he couldn’t answer questions about the criteria level for losing the care service and said he didn’t know anything about the appeals process, calling on a junior officer to answer to the packed meeting. Other cabinet members in attendance and making the decision admitted that they did not know the answers to those questions either. They were; Cllr. Paul Bristow (Con), Cllr. Greg Smith (Con), Cllr. Mark Loveday (Con), Cllr. Nicholas Botterill (Con), and Cllr. Stephen Greenhalgh (Con). The decision to cut the service was voted through unanimously.
Cllr. Lillis told the packed public meeting that “The status quo was not an option” because the Conservative run council wanted to realise a £500,000 cash saving. The sum saved is less than that put aside for councillors’ pay, less than what is spent on the Council newspaper (H&F News) and propaganda activities, less than what is being spend on new blue rebranding and new blue decorations, less than 1% of council tax and equivalent to the pay of just four senior council officials. H&F Council Cabinet papers show that the Conservatives also intend to remove services from a further 800 residents within six months.