Worth the wait – not!

So for the past three weeks there has been an  interesting exchange on blogs and twitter as we have questioned if the Lib Dems were going to bother to produce a manifesto or not for the Suffolk County Elections and finally yesterday 22 days to go they seemed to have cobbled something together.

Was it worth the wait – I think not!

Reading through it I struggle to find an actual policy, now I know Labour and we Tories both like to take the ‘mickey’ out of the Lib Dems about not being able to decide to have a cup of tea or coffee without forming a committee but what they have put up on their web site is unimpressive even for them.

I am going to do this first blog about the area which has been my honour to have the political responsibility for over the past 4 years – Health and Adult Care.

Their document at point number 2 starts with: ‘Appropriate Care provision, for all who need it’

Yes I quite agree with that and I sort of thought that was exactly what we are doing with our policy called ‘Supporting lives, Connecting Communities’ for which we have received national interest about the way we are involving communities in the design of our care services.

Next comes: ‘’Care’ has been the Cinderella service of this Tory council.’

Does that make me the fairy godmother or one of the ugly sisters! I get called many things so that’s OK but Conservatives have and will continue to focus resources and priority to protecting and supporting the most vulnerable in our society. Adult Social Care is the biggest single spend of the County Council, there is nothing ‘Cinderella’ about the service it is a serious business staffed by professional social workers who spend literally hundreds of millions of pounds here in Suffolk looking after the most vulnerable in our society. During the course of the past 4 years I have met many very vulnerable people and I have witnesses the professionalism and care exhibited by our social workers in supporting them.

Next we have their new catchphrase ‘enough is enough’.

This in many ways does sum up their so-called manifesto’s nebulous claptrap. Enough of what? 0% Council tax increases, ever more efficient services, I could go on……

Now to the ‘meat’ or lack of it, of their manifesto commitments on Health and Adult care:

‘Liberal Democrats will: Make sure the Tory divestment of our Care Homes does not produce a worse service’

This is of course an interesting one, they are not saying it will produce a worse service but merely implying it might – so let’s look at the facts.

Our 16 not fit for purpose care homes were transferred to Care UK had 526 beds in a total market place of 5,500 beds so we were a little under 10% of that market place. Care UK will be increasing the bed capacity to 638, a little over 10% of the total market, with a £60M investment in 10 new state of the art Care Homes. Adult social services supports 2,300 people in the private sector some 40% of the total market. So the facts of the matter is that the vast majority of those we support we have been supporting in the private sector for many years, this will continue. We have a long established relationship with private Care Homes both in terms of our working relationship with their trade Association, the latest of their meetings I attended just a couple of weeks ago, and through our social workers who support people when they are making the decisions about going into a residential Care Home, this will also continue. We will continue to work with private Care Homes and the Care Quality Commission to see the highest standards of care delivered here in Suffolk just as we have been doing.

‘Liberal Democrats will: Support Family Carers with fast, targeted, assistance, recognising they are the bedrock on which the county depends!’

Simply could not agree more that’s why we Conservatives have entered into a Strategic partnership with Suffolk Family Carers which means not only do we recognise that they are one of the bedrocks on which the county depends, it means we provide them with funding and they design the services to meet our jointly agreed outcome objectives of, you guessed it, faster, more targeted, assistance.

‘Liberal Democrats will: Scrutinise the impact of the Suffolk Circle and, work with local organisations to develop new ways to help vulnerable people.’

It seems extraordinary that of all the voluntary organisations we work with in Suffolk they have decided to scrutinise and pick on one in a manifesto. Firstly surely scrutiny is the role of the scrutiny committee, which recently has scrutinised Suffolk Circle, not a manifesto pledge which is meant to be about future policies; secondly, and more importantly I would suggest anyone have a look at the Suffolk Circle website www.suffolkcircle.org.uk to see the great things this not for profit organisation get involved with. They are one of literally hundreds of voluntary organisations that through our Conservative strategy are commissioned to provide support to those in our community who need it. And on the second point in this pledge I can only refer them back to our Supporting Lives, Connecting Communities policy which is agreed, approved and being implemented working with local organisations to develop new ways to help vulnerable people. please see http://www.thesuffolkcongress.org.uk/files/health-subgroup/2012-11-15%20Suffolk%20Adult%20Care%20presentation.PDF

The next two manifesto pledges I could not agree more and that’s why we are doing those very things. We recognise the links between education, transport, nutrition and health and we are delivering on the new public health responsibility of the council. From the public health documents that have been published and the recent Health and Wellbeing Strategy document again agreed, approved and being implemented. I have to say it’s quite bizarre to see your strategies being quoted in another party’s manifesto, of course again the implication is you are not doing those things and perhaps an inconvenient truth that we are, please see http://committeeminutes.suffolkcc.gov.uk/meeting.aspx?d=29/Jan/2013&c=The%20Cabinet then click Agenda item 8 -Appendix.

All in all, I have seen some weak opposition manifestos in my time, indeed I thought the Lib Dems 2009 one lacked substance but with this one they have truly surpassed themselves.

No wonder so many lib Dems are turning away from them, no wonder they can’t find enough people to stand in each seat and no wonder so many of their supporters are leaving to join the greens, at least they have actual pledges in their manifesto, however wacky.

About askcolinnoble
I'm a Conservative politician-lite, I dabble a bit in Party Politics with my main focus of working hard and being a strong voice for my community making sure local government delivers quality services and fellow residents get value for money for their hard earned money they pay in Council tax | Where this Gravatar appears and I am expressing my views or liking something I do so in a personal capacity and does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of Suffolk County Council, Forest Heath District Council, the Conservative Party or come to think of it anyone else | But having said the above at an election time and to stay legal anything I write is promoted by Lance Stanbury on behalf of Colin Noble, both at West Suffolk Conservative Association, Unit 8, Swan Lane Business Park, Exning, Newmarket, Suffolk CB8 7FN

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