Possible U-turn on Powys day centre charge increase

Reporter:

Barry Hancock

A rise in day centre charges imposed earlier this year could be reversed after a Powys County Council vote.

In March, the previous cabinet opted to increase the attendance fee from £10 to £15, and the price of a meal and refreshments from £5 to £7.50.

At a full council meeting last week, a motion was proposed by Cllr James Gibson-Watt, Leader of the Welsh Liberal Democrat Group, and seconded by Cllr Matthew Dorrance, Leader of the Welsh Labour Group, to restore the charges to their original level.

Cllr Gibson-Watt said: “There is a particular concern about the meals, because for a lot of people it’s the only decent meal they get during the week. For particularly vulnerable people that’s very important.”

The vote was passed by the narrowest of margins, with 30 for, 28 against and two abstentions.

Cllr Gibson-Watt reminded the council that the Cabinet decision had been made after the county council had set its 2017/18 budget and Council Tax rate and without prior consultation with individual service users or council members.

He said: “We felt it was very underhand and sneaky. I personally thought it was an abuse of process, it should have been done during the budget discussions, not after them.”

Cllr Dorrance raised the risk to vulnerable service-users’ health and well-being that the increased charges may cause, especially during a time of great austerity.

He said: “The Cabinet’s increases in attendance and meal charges at Day Centres in Powys are cruel and callous. The vote today sends a very clear message to the Independent-Tory Cabinet that Councillors think they are unfair and unwarranted.

“We know that service cuts and hiked-up charges hit the poorest and most vulnerable in our communities hardest. Our motion called on the Cabinet to take the burden off the backs of day centre users.”

Email:

barry.hancock@nwn.co.uk

See full story in the County Times

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