|MP's cover-up claim in day centre fee row|
|Written by The Dumfries & Galloway Standard|
|Friday, 13 July 2012|
A MOVE by the council’s administration to block an adult resource centre charging inquiry smacks of a "cover-up".
And, according to angry MP Russell Brown, the authority is hiding something. He has turned up the heat by hitting the authority with a Freedom of Information request.
The politician wants the council to "come clean" over the way the charge was introduced and insists social work director John Alexander was not correct when he said no charges were levied in 2011/12.
Last week, members agreed to suspend the charges plan after Mr Alexander admitted the report on which they based the decision was flawed.
Instead of saying the 2010/11 charge for an adult day care services session was nil, the report said it was £16.50. It was 13 months before the error was brought to Mr Alexander’s attention.
Now Mr Brown is demanding answers to a number of points, including errors in council papers, the investigation into the 2011/12 charge and all correspondence about the situation, particularly between leader Ivor Hyslop and social services committee chairman Andy Ferguson.
In a blistering attack, Mr Brown said: "It’s time the council came clean on the ARC charges fiasco. People deserve to know why such a charge was slipped in by the back door.
"First we had the report error, then the claim no one had paid charges, when we know that isn’t right. The whole thing is a mess and the council is making it up as they go along.
"Labour forced the issue to be discussed but Tory and SNP councillors united to block calls for a full inquiry. That amounted to little short of a cover-up which is a clear sign they have something to hide.
"Councillors and ARC users have been misled time and again. We need the truth, which is why I have submitted a request demanding that all the details are released. We need to know what assessment was done before the introduction of the charge and what is being done now to sort it."
A council spokesman said the council agreed to suspend the charging policy pending a full review of all adult day care services.
Officials had raised the possibility of issues of fairness and inequality. "As such it would be unwise to unilaterally decide on a course of action which could place the council at risk of prosecution," the spokesman added.
As a "matter of urgency", the authority is seeking legal opinion about their proposals and is consulting the Equality and Human Rights Commission for guidance.