After the initial elation of becoming Rothwell’s first Labour councillor elected in the 21st century I straight away had to buckle down and get into the hard work that being a local councillor is. The first issue that I’ve had to deal with was only revealed to me on the Monday after I was elected. It was devastating news to find out that, because of the Tory Liberal Democrat government’s draconian spending cuts, Leeds City Council is having to consult about the potential closure of care homes and day care centres across Leeds – including Dolphin Manor and Rose Farm in Rothwell.
My immediate reaction was to want to rush down to Dolphin Manor and talk to the staff and residents, but then I realised it would be far better to arrange it properly and so I made an appointment to visit the home this morning. I also demanded – and got – an immediate meeting with the senior officers responsible for social care and the consultation process.
This morning it was great to spend some time with the manager and residents at Dolphin Manor. I had a really good look around and listened to what the manager, staff and the residents had to say. I received a very warm welcome both from Sonia, the manager and especially from the residents who were lovely, great characters who all have a few tales to tell having lived long lives as they are in their 80s and 90s and seen so much.
One of the chaps was telling me about his medals he earned giving service to the country. Some of the ladies told me they were going to stay and would glue themselves to the chairs so they couldn’t take them away and they were going to get their placards ready, one of the ladies was brought to tears discussing it. It was evident that all the residents are happy and well looked after and have distinct friendship groups. It was also obvious that many were local from Rothwell, a couple of residents I spoke to were from Carlton where I live.
This is a very worrying time for residents and staff alike, but being true carers the staff are even more concerned about the residents as it’s their home we’re talking about. I promised residents I’d do what I can for them and I will. I didn’t make any false promises that I may not be able to keep but I will definitely do my best for them.
One thing that shocked me was the response of the local Liberal Democrat councillors. I imagined, that having been councillors for Rothwell for several years, that their first concern would be like mine and for the residents and staff. It appears that I was mistaken as they did rush down to Dolphin Manor, but only to have their photos taken outside! They didn’t take the time to go in and talk to the staff and residents to find out how they were feeling, although I have heard they have now arranged to go in later this week. I took a camera as well, but only to take some photos to show to the executive board member who’s responsible for social care so she can see the home that’s threatened.
This sort of behaviour is not only opportunistic, but it’s also irresponsible to not even bother finding out what the residents and staff really think.
So watch out for the next Liberal Democrat Focus leaflet telling you how much they care – about their own publicity and churning out propaganda.