On Wednesday, Wrecsam Council's Social Affairs, Health and Housing scrutiny committee will be discussing plans to cut the day care and respite care at Nant Silyn, a council-run home in Caia Park. As well as these two services, primarily for elderly people with dementia, Nant Silyn also has residential care.
Once I heard about the proposal to cut day care services in Nant Silyn, I and Cllr Keith Gregory visited the centre to find out the implications for ourselves. What is obvious is that cutting day care services would make the whole centre unviable and more than likely lead to closure of the entire site.
The centre provides the best care possible and the issue seems based solely on cost cutting.
We also visited Deva House and Caia Park Day Centre, which also care for the elderly, as these had been cited as being able to make up the difference if day care facilities were axed.
It became apparent from talking to staff and residents that Nant Silyn provides a completely different service. Proposals to move patients to Plas yn Rhos in Rhosllannerchrugog would mean a significantly longer journey for many patients and take the service out of the town.
It also flies in the face of evidence that the elderly population is growing dramatically and that there will be an increased demand for such facilities. So much so that there are a number of plans on the table for private homes to care for the elderly in the borough. Coincidence?
Both Cllr Mike Morris and myself argued against this proposed cut in a recent council budget meeting and succeeded in getting it postponed subject to a scrutiny meeting. That meeting will determine the viability of Nant Silyn before it goes for final approval before the Executive Board. The cut, if made, would save £100,000 a year.
This is all part of the council's need to find £5m in savings in the coming financial year, but I do not accept that cutting a frontline service like this is the best way to make those savings. I will continue to oppose any cut in service at Nant Silyn because of the quality of service provided.
Officers looking to make up the difference will ask 'what do you propose to cut in place of this?' and it's a fair question that all councillors have to take on board. Given that £5m is about 2.5% of the council's annual budget, perhaps it makes more sense to decide what we want to maintain as services and work back from that.
The people who know where real savings can be made are council workers working in frontline services. I wonder to what extent they have been consulted in reality when some of them are approaching us to say proposals for cuts that wouldn't see a diminution in service are ignored by their superiors.
Councillors are not being given those options - we're told "cut this or find something else to cut".