The announcement by the Conservative administration at Surrey County Council that they want close down the six residential homes they still own and run; Brockhurst in Ottershaw, Cobgates in Farnham, Dormers in Caterham, Longfield in Cranleigh, Park Hall in Reigate and Pinehurst in Camberley; came as little surprise to some councillors but must have been a shock to the elderly people who live there and their families.
Cllr Fiona White, Lib Dem spokesperson on Adults Social Care commented: “The reason given at the Surrey County Council Cabinet meeting was that the homes don’t meet today’s standards and that it would cost too much to update them. For many years Surrey County Council have failed to modernise the buildings and have even failed to update such things as carpets and furniture, so the council only have themselves to blame.. Now many old people face having to move out of their homes and excellent, caring staff face possible redundancies.
“The members of the Conservative Cabinet said time and again how good the staff are and how high the standards of care in the substandard buildings which means that the only people responsible for this situation are the Conservatives who have almost exclusively controlled the council for over 40 years.
“Conservatives keep telling us they are economically competent but what competent organisation allows its physical assets to fall into such a poor condition that they are not suitable for today’s levels of care?
“Before the homes close, the Conservatives are carrying out a consultation exercise. Among those they say they will consult or keep informed are people who live in the homes or who go there for respite care or day care; the families and carers of people who use the homes for care services; Surrey County Council staff including people working at the care homes and outside organisations including people who run independent care homes. It is important that as many people as possible let the council know what they think of the proposals. It is essential that Surrey County Council pays real attention to the responses, including being prepared to rethink their closure proposals if there is strong opposition.”
Liberal Democrat Conference, this year held in Glasgow, saw key party members from Guildford gain profile for their work in and outside of the party.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Parliamentary Candidate for Guildford, spoke to BBC Surrey Radio about how well Conference went for the party.
Campaigns Organiser Hannah Thompson was awarded ‘Campaign of the Year’ by Lib Dem Voice for her excellent work on “Revenge Porn”. Read more here.
Members and activists have returned to campaign on the big issues Guildford faces, both at a local level and a national level.
Liberal Democrat Activists from Guildford returned this week triumphant from the Party Conference at which they announced a key manifesto pledge to tackle the broken processes behind treating mental health in the UK.
Kelly-Marie Blundell, Parliamentary Candidate and campaigner for better mental health services, is calling for equal status of mental and physical health;
“Mental health cannot be ignored, and we must stand up and challenge those who see it as a stigma. It should be taken as seriously as physical health.
The Lib Dems are the only party to stand up for those with Mental Health problems, and we will be be investing £400 million to help people with mental health problems get the right support early on, such as talking or psychological therapies. We will also introduce waiting limits, so people will know for the first time how long they have to wait for mental health treatment.
Our new mental health action plan sets out our priorities for essential change in mental health, including:
At the Liberal Democrat Conference in October 2014, Guildford’s Parliamentary Candidate Kelly-Marie Blundell took to the stand to defend the NHS and remove the sections from the Health and Social Care Act 2012 that would force trusts into private hands.
The Liberal Democrats put together a comprehensive Public Services paper which calls for changes to be made across Local Government, NHS and education. The core of the paper is to ensure greater transparency, opportunity for all and delivering quality services that are affordable and accountable.
This policy will provide core information to the Liberal Democrat Manifesto in 2015 and help create the red lines of any future coalition agreement.
Speaking on the motion, Kelly-Marie raised the issue of the extensive NHS debt;
“Labour were so quick to pander to headlines, they bankrupted the NHS through Private Finance Initiatives.
Even I was bewitched by Blair’s promises of more beds, more dentists, more budgets. I didn’t realise until I worked for the NHS just how far into debt they were forced to reach those targets.
Around the country, people are working to save hospitals, hospitals which under the current Health and Social Care Act will be forced into private hands if they incur debts.
In the UK, we spend less than the European average per person on NHS care, and we must demand that more money is invested. The Liberal Democrats are the only party to pledge £1bn more in NHS funding, to help deliver the services that are integral to Britain.
Hospitals and NHS Trusts provide a vital service, and we cannot have legislation pushing them into private hands. Labour went far to bankrupt the NHS, and we must not believe their promises of better service, as they’ll simply run up the books again.”
Kelly-Marie Blundell, who campaigned to change the NHS Health and Social Care Act 2014 through the Social Liberal Forum, has long been an advocate of increased spending and better integration of Health and Social Care.
Kelly-Marie worked in public consultation at NHS Eastern and Coastal Kent before moving the Charity Sector.
Guildford’s Prospective Liberal Democrat MP, Kelly-Marie Blundell this week used the Liberal Democrat Party Conference to call on the party to do more to reform the welfare system.
Moving a motion which she co-wrote, Kelly-Marie will demand that the Coalition, and future governments, review Universal Credit, provide a integrated system of hardship payments and make swift changes to benefit sanctions, which are leaving people in abject poverty.
Kelly-Marie, who sits on the Liberal Democrat Policy Committee, has long been a champion of the welfare state, but insists that it must be a “hand up not a hand out”.
The Conference delegates, who select policy from the ground up, overwhelmingly approved the policy, which will call on the Liberal Democrats to make Welfare a key issue in the their 2015 Manifesto.
Her work on Spare Room Subsidy (Bedroom Tax) lead to the Liberal Democrat Council group challenging the Conservative-led Guildford Borough Council to ring-fence money made available for those in need. The Conservatives rejected the motion to do this.
Kelly-Marie has subsequently worked with food bank charity The Trussell Trust and food banks across the South East to ensure people get the support and advice they need in order to move out of poverty.
The debate, held on Sunday 5th October 2014, faced criticism from the right, who believe that benefit bills should be cut further, but Kelly-Marie objects to this view, stating;
“The Liberal Democrats are the forefathers of the welfare state, and we must not be the executioners also.
We have seen an essentially shambolic introduction of Universal Credit, a policy which goes far to address the problems in the Welfare state, but has been caught up in administrative errors.
Yes, we need benefits to be simpler, but we also need the process to put them in place to be simpler. No one should be left in poverty because of an administrative screw-up.
The Conservatives are quick to bash the poor, but we are the party who are standing up for those on benefits.”
Listen to Kelly-Marie Blundell speaking to BBC News about the Welfare Reform motion here:
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