Labour Councillors have reacted with disappointment after their long running campaign to stop the Tories from privatising Meals on Wheels was defeated at a meeting of the Council.
The ‘video conference’ meeting of the Council considered a motion by Labours Cllr Elaine Sherrington, that asked Council to send the meals on wheels proposals back to the Tory cabinet for them to reconsider. However the Lib Dems and UKIP and other independent councillors backed the Tory plans.
Cllr Sherrington said “We clearly won the argument that to proceed with this move would not only hit the pockets of some of the poorest in our town, but it would lead to an increase in social isolation that this move will inevitably cause. But the smaller parties refused to listen to us and backed the Tory privatisation.”
Under the proposals, that will now go ahead, a private contractor will now take over the service. This will mean that the price of a single meal will increase by over £2, the quality of the food will drop and customers will have to pay extra if they want to have a brief chat with the person delivering the meal. Labour argued that because of these changes, many current recipients will simply drop out of the service, leading to health concerns and even more pressure on social and health workers.
Cllr Sherrington continued, “the Tories tried to argue that this was the decision of the previous Labour Council, but that is simply not true. We were willing to go out to consultation to see what people thought, that was all. But the results of that consultation clearly showed a huge amount of worry and distress by people who consider this to be a lifeline.”
Labour Leader, Cllr Nick Peel added “I pointed out to members that had Labour not called in this decision, the council would have been in the middle of implementing it as lockdown started, which would inevitably have led to chaos and suffering. At a time when the focus is very much on the vulnerable and isolated, the Tories and their allies are pushing ahead with their plans. I am extremely worried about the impact this move will have on those who are already isolated and worried sick about the pandemic.”
Labour had delayed the original decision, that was made in private with no press or public present, since November 2019.