A constituent who provides care for an elderly lady in Tameside recently contacted me in distress. Every now and then this lady goes to Gorse Hall Day Centre in Stalybridge, where pensioners can go to get out and socialise with one another. It's highly popular and provides a valuable service for pensioners and their carers. To their surprise, they received a letter stating that the service is to be stopped due to a need to save money.
The Council’s main reason was that it was costing £8.50 per head to provide tea and toast in the morning, with a two course lunch later on. A Freedom of Information request I did to Tameside Council some years ago on the cost of meals to councillors before their full council meeting showed that our politicians often get served steak and chips, washed down with a glass of wine and followed by a dessert. Guess how much this comes to? Only £2.95 per head!
What adds insult to injury is that this meal starts at 4pm, before the full council meeting starts at 5pm. Often the full council meeting only lasts for half an hour, so the meal lasts longer than the meeting itself. If councillors are that hungry and require a meal I suggest they bring a packed lunch or do what most working people do and wait until they get home. If the cost of this meal is so much cheaper than tea and toast for pensioners then perhaps we should invite the pensioners to the town hall and give them what the councillors have before full council.
It's amazing how creative Tameside Council can be with the figures when they want to justify something for themselves. It also shows that Tameside Labour councillors would rather keep meals for themselves rather than support our pensioners who have worked hard all their lives and paid their taxes.
The Conservatives have demanded that the number of councillors be cut by a third. This would save over half a million pounds in allowances and election costs. This would more than pay for Gorse Hall Day Centre to remain open. Tameside Labour are against this; they would rather see a day centre for the elderly close at the expense of keeping their own allowances and perks. It's time that we put our money to good use, rather than protect the political class.
The letter to the editor above should have appeared in the current edition of the Advertiser however it did not appear in print, can anyone guess why? The Gorse Hall Centre featured in the Manchester Evening News back in 2005 following a "political furore" sparked by rumours. Cllr Taylor vowed to "put the matter right once and for all". Read the article here and take a look at the main picture outside 'Gorse Hall'? Tameside Citizen