Yesterday, there was a substantial protest outside County Hall by users of the Queen Elizabeth Foundation Resource Centre, a day centre for adults with physical disabilities in Dartford. I have instigated a consultation to replace the "bricks and mortar" services provided there, with more community-based services in line with both Government and County Council thinking.
But change is often - and understandably - viewed with suspicion, and officers from Kent Adult Social services are working slowly and steadily with service users to assess their needs and help them create individual, personalised packages of care that will better serve their needs. BBC South East ran a story on the protest at lunchtime and the evening news bulletins. In it, local Labour County and Borough Councillors were joining in the protest, rightly standing up for their local constituents.
However, what irked me most was that Liberal Democrats - none of whom speak for this area - had induced the disabled users to hold a banner proclaiming "Kent Lib Dems - Standing up for Disability Rights".
I hope the "Councillors" in question can live with their consciences - hijacking a legitimate protest as a party political publicity stunt is going way beyond the boundary of acceptable political behaviour, and is shameful in the extreme.
photo courtesy of Kent Liberal Democrat website - read their version of the story at http://kentlibdems.org.uk/news/000212/elderly_people_to_pay_more_disabled_people_to_lose_their_centre.html