Carer who campaigned to open day centres standing in Caerphilly election
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
A carer who campaigned for the re-opening of day centres wants to “make a difference” and is standing in the upcoming council election in Caerphilly.
Mark Robotham, whose disabled son attends the Brooklands day centre in Risca, will be a Plaid Cymru candidate in the Morgan Jones ward on May 5.
Mr Robotham, who also works for the South Wales Fire Service, said: “The cuts in provision have had a significant impact on my family. My son needs round-the-clock care so the day centre sessions were not only essential for him, but they also provided vital respite for my wife and me.
“Since Caerphilly imposed the cuts, we have really struggled. I know our position is not unique as it has had a devastating effect on many other people throughout the county borough.”
The Morgan Jones ward currently has two Labour councillors and one Plaid Cymru councillor. The Deputy Leader of the council Jamie Pritchard and Cabinet Member for Social Services Shayne Cook are standing for re-election for Labour, alongside Anne Broughton-Petit. The Plaid Cymru incumbent Phil Bevan is standing down this year.
Over the past few months, Caerphilly County Borough Council has received strong criticism from carers such as Mr Robotham over the limited opening hours of day centres. But the council has maintained that it is protecting vulnerable service users.
At a full council meeting held on November 3, 2021, Cllr Cook said: “It is irresponsible for the council to return to providing a full service of hours at day centres at this current time when doing so we would be ignoring Covid risk assessments and Welsh Government Covid Regulations.”
At this meeting, Plaid Cymru’s motion to fully re-open day centres was rejected.
Mr Robotham said: “I am standing for election to make a difference. There is a balance to be struck between ensuring the safety of disabled adults and access to day care facilities.
“That balance is way out of kilter right now and Plaid Cymru have pledged to restore services for the most vulnerable – just like other local authorities have already managed to do. If other local authorities can do it, why not Caerphilly?”
Peredur Owen Griffiths, Plaid Cymru regional Senedd Member for South Wales East, said: “Mark is a principled and strong campaigner who has, time and time again, called out the Labour-led Caerphilly County Borough Council for leaving parents in his position in the lurch.
“He fights for what he believes in and fights for what is right. He is a strong candidate and a big asset to Plaid Cymru. I will be supporting candidates like Mark to achieve real change in the county borough this May and bring some much-needed respite to the parents of disabled adults.”
In its manifesto, the Labour group has pledged to open two new respite centres in the county borough.
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