Labour accuse Plaid Cymru of ‘political opportunism’ over day care centres
Rhiannon James, local democracy reporter
The Labour group on Caerphilly County Borough Council has accused Plaid Cymru of using the issue of day care centre opening hours for political gain.
On Tuesday, Plaid Cymru announced it intends to table a motion to return day care opening hours to their pre-pandemic schedule, and halt a Labour plan aimed at “modernising” them.
It comes after carers of adults with learning difficulties in Caerphilly County Borough say they have seen a 80% reduction in social care support since the pandemic, with some users going from 30 hours a week to just six.
But Councillor Shayne Cook, Cabinet Member for Social Services on Caerphilly County Borough Council, described Plaid Cymru’s actions as “the worst kind of political opportunism”.
Cllr Cook added: “Cllr Mann should wait to see the outcome of our council’s consultation before using this complex issue for his own political gain.
“Our Labour-led Caerphilly Council has worked hard to reopen our day centres, while focusing on the safety of our most vulnerable users. We have not yet been able to reopen to pre-Covid levels because we are following the Welsh Government’s restrictions, implementing social distancing, safe staffing levels and infection control, all while being guided by risk assessments to stop the spread of Covid-19.
“It’s not currently possible to fully reopen day care centres while complying with all these requirements.”
‘Not going well’
Leader of Plaid Cymru Colin Mann responded to Labour’s comments, saying that they were simply responding to carers’ concerns.
“Our councillors have been contacted by worried and anxious carers over day care services and the so-called consultation,” he said. “Some of the carers have not even been contacted by the council to seek their views.
“We have submitted a motion to the council in an attempt to resolve the issues that have been brought to us.”
Cllr Mann added: “Carers are saving the public purse huge amounts of money with the duties they undertake and they are not being treated properly. Around 100 carers attended a public meeting recently to discuss their problems. This does not happen if things are going well.
“What does Labour expect us to do – ignore the real concerns? We would be failing in our duty as councillors if we did not pursue this and we understand that the trade unions are also very unhappy about proposals the council is consulting on.”
The council said it has been consulting carers and service with a survey.
This consists of clipart pictures and tick boxes asking service users the activities they enjoyed at the centres.
Mark Robotham, whose disabled son Michael attends Brooklands day centre, Risca, described the survey as “insulting”, because his son Michael is not able to do the activities listed.
The Labour-run council has received criticism from carers and day care centre users.
Mr Robotham said: “We seem to be going backwards not forwards. The council are trying to fix something that is not broken. My son’s needs were met pre-pandemic when he could go to the day centre.”
Michael Robotham is in need of round-the-clock care. His father said the reduction in social care hours offered by the council could mean he has to move to residential care.