AS senior research academics at three Scottish universities, we are writing to add our voices to the concerns raised by James Kelman, Liz Lochhead, Tom Leonard and others regarding the way in which Glasgow City Council is pressing ahead with the closure of three day centres for adults with learning disabilities ("Kelman: Centre closures are attack on vulnerable" and Letters, The Herald, December 17).
No-one can dispute the view put forward in the The Same as You? policy document more than a decade ago that adults with learning disabilities should have much greater choice and control over the services they receive, or that these services should be community-based.
Yet there is growing concern that in Glasgow, a progressive self-directed support agenda is being used as a cover for cuts which will result in a withdrawal of much-needed services, increased social isolation for service users and added pressure on carers who are often already at breaking point.
In addition, the so-called consultation document which has been issued to service users is a sham, based on leading – and misleading – questions. Had it been submitted by a student as a research proposal, it would have been a clear fail. For all these reasons, we support the call from trade unions and voluntary organisations for the Care Inspectorate to return to Glasgow as a matter of urgency to investigate the treatment of vulnerable adults with learning disabilities affected by a range of Glasgow City Council policies.
Professor and Director, Centre for Public Health and Population Health Research, University of Stirling;
Professor of Social Work and Social Policy, University of the West of Scotland;
Professor of Work and Employment Studies, Department of Human Resource Management, University of Strathclyde.
YOUR correspondents are correct to condemn Glasgow City Council's attitude to day centres for people with learning disabilities. It is right that learning disability day services should be kept under review to ensure they continue to meet the needs of new and existing generations of service users, but that is not what is happening in Glasgow. The administration's plans are not about genuine reform and improvement, but simply about continuing the programme of day centre closures that began with the Accord Centre last year.
At last Thursday's meeting of the full council, I asked the Labour administration's executive member for social care, Councillor Matt Kerr, to take the issue of closures off the table – at least for the time being – and engage in a genuine partnership with service users and carers to plan flexible, imaginative, community-based day services for the future, with people's needs and choices as the starting point. He declined to do that, and to consider extending the ridiculously short time period for consultation on the council's proposals; a consultation which the service users and carers to whom I have spoken have little faith in as genuine.
Many former users of the Accord Centre are still not receiving anything like an adequate replacement service, more than a year after that facility closed. More closures will simply mean more people with learning disabilities left in the lurch, deprived of the structure, support and relationships developed often over many years.
Councillor Susan Aitken (SNP),
SNP social care spokeswoman, Glasgow City Council, George Square, Glasgow.