It has been a difficult few weeks as I have received emails, held meetings and listened to voluntary sector groups from across Croydon tell me about the devastating impact that Labour's cuts programme is going to have on groups that serve the most vulnerable in our town. Some of the information I have heard is truly heartbreaking and includes:-
- Disability Croydon will have to close
- Croydon Carers will close their respite care programme, their learning disability carer support service and their health and well being service.
- Croydon Vision Staff are facing redundancy, but despite numerous calls and emails to the Council they cannot get anyone to respond to them
- Services for over 65’s will be dramatically reduced
- Woodside Bereavement Service will have to close
- The Croydon Hearing Resource Centre contract with the Council ends on the 31 st March, but no one at the Council will confirm what will happen after that date.
The truth is that if Croydon Council is going to recover from the enormous black hole that they have dug themselves, Labour Councillors are going to have to find some humility and admit that the voluntary sector and business sector are often better than the Council at running local services.
To give a practical example:-
"Up until recently I managed Selsdon Contact a Neighbourhood Care Charity that ran support services for older and vulnerable residents living in Selsdon. Thanks to a team of 300 volunteers we were able to provide a multitude of services on an annual budget of £60,000 per annum, with a grant from the Council of just
£15k. I wrote a paper that demonstrated that if the Council and NHS were to provide similar services it would have cost £250,000 per annum."
I asked the Labour group to consider a different approach. Rather than cutting funding to the voluntary sector the Council should working with Voluntary Groups on partnerships to run vital Council services in the future. This is the route that will produce the real long term savings that the Council needs to find.
The response from the Labour benches was to insult us, claiming that Conservatives know nothing about the voluntary sector and that we were just scaremongering. This could not be further from the truth.
Yes I am a Conservative but I sold my house and gave up my Job at the age of 30 to go and serve, some of the most kind and caring people I have ever met, on what the Council likes to label a 'Deprived Estate'. You can learn more about my background here:-
I hope that Croydon Labour will listen to my plea, but at the moment they seem to be too wrapped up in their own self importance to listen to anyone.