Meals service for elderly to be restored at Gale Farm Court

Meals at Gale Farm Court will be restarting in January following pressure from residents and new Westfield Councillor Andrew Waller.

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

The new service will be supplied via Age UK (formerly Age Concern) with freshly made meals being prepared daily.

The Council announced in September that it was scrapping the lunchtime meal option at its sheltered establishments. The move was heavily criticised for lack of consultation and it later emerged that the cost saving measure had been prompted by criticism of the quality of food provided by the previous contractor.

The Council hoped to save £50,000 by cutting meals services at its elderly persons establishments

Residents had thought that the Council were negotiating with other supplers and were stunned when the decision to scrap the service was made on 3rd September.

Despite appeals the meals stopped on 1st October – leaving residents too little time to appoint another supplier.

The Labour Cabinet member (Cunningham–Cross) refused to reply to Andrew Waller when he wrote, on behalf of residents, to ask for an extension to allow enough time for a new system to be worked out.

Andrew Waller commented

The new meals have been chosen by the residents, and they are pleased that the Council no longer manages the contract.

 Instead they are now in control and can take problems up directly with John O’Brien who is running the meals system.

It is sad that the Council treat residents of Gale Farm Court (and the other three sheltered homes run by the Council) so badly, and I hope that lessons have been learned for the future.

The Council has admitted to me that the situation was badly handled.”

The  incident has parallels with the muddle over the future of the  Castlegate centre for young people. There the Council was forced to reverse a closure decision earlier in the week and admitted that it had failed to consult properly on options.

£2 million cost to allow elderly/disabled to live in their own homes

main_Home_Adaptations_1309352092The York Council spent over £800,000 last year in providing accessible shower facilities for their disabled occupants. Most of this was spent on adaptations to private houses (£564,000) with Council properties making up the balance (£249,000)

In total over £2 million was spent making it easier for elderly and disabled people to continue to live at home.

The figures were provided by the Council in response to a Freedom of Information request

NB. Internal appeals against the York Councils internal refusal to release information under FOI legislation have been upheld on 44 occasions in the 12 months up to the end of September. The decisions are in addition to thise referred to the Office of the Information Commissioner

“Crisis” in recruiting social care staff in York

A report to a Council committee taking place next week reveals that

“Providers are facing a “crisis” in terms of recruiting suitable carers across home care, residential and nursing care services”.Social care

The Council says it is looking at ways of retaining staff and supporting additional recruitment.

Most York Council funded care services are now undertaken by private contractors. With wages by far the highest cost of providing personal care for the elderly and disabled there is a growing suspicion that increased staff costs will be passed on to Council taxpayers, when contracts are re-tendered.

The report also reveals that new standards and process have been introduced by the Care Quality Commission. (CQC)

All services are regulated by the Care Quality Commission and, as the regulator, it carries out regular inspection visits and follow-up visits (announced/unannounced) where applicable.

The frequency of CQC inspections will be dependant on the provider’s rating and on intelligence received in between scheduled inspections.

All reports are within the public domain and CQC have a range of enforcement options open to them should Quality and Standards fall below required expectations.

  • Of the 43 residential care homes in York, 6 currently have compliance actions listed against them.
  • Of 35 Home care providers in York, 2 currently have compliance and enforcement issues against them

The Councils states that when last surveyed 89% of their care customers were satisfied with the services that they were receiving.

State pension set to rise by 2.5 per cent next year

Pensioners will benefit from a 2.5 per cent increase in their state pension thanks to the Liberal Democrat Triple Lock guarantee.

Figures out today (14 October) show that inflation is below target meaning that the basic state pension will be boosted by 2.5 per cent next year.

The Triple Lock guarantee means that pensions will increase with inflation, earnings or 2.5 per cent – whichever is highest.


Commenting on the inflation figures, Liberal Democrat Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Danny Alexander said:

“This below target inflation number is good news for everyone, but will help pensioners in particular as the Liberal Democrat flagship ‘Triple Lock’ policy will kick in to give an above inflation pension increase.

“The Triple Lock delivers a pension rise of whichever is the greater of average earnings, inflation or 2.5%.

“This means that next year the basic state pension will rise by 2.5% or £2.85 a week.  With Liberal Democrats in Government the basic state pension has risen by over £950.

“This shows that pensioners are at the heart of our Liberal Democrat vision of a stronger economy and a fairer society.

“They’ve done their bit for society and paid their dues over a lifetime. Our Triple Lock policy ensures our country does right by them.

“This is in stark contrast to life under the Conservatives who broke the link between pensions and earnings in the Thatcher years, and life under Labour when pensioners were insulted with rises as low as 75p.”

Williams & Alexander force charity workers resignation

We understand that David Smith, the man at the centre of the anonymous tweets controversy, has now resigned from his post as head of a York mental health charity.

His decision came shortly after the local newspaper reported complaints by Westfield Labour Councillor Dafydd Williams.


It is understood that Williams and Labour Councillor Leader James Alexander had written to senior executives and trustees as the Charity demanding that they take action against the worker.

It has also emerged that none of the comments made under the pseudonym “Jack Ham” on The Press website were in any way abusive.

The losers will be those suffering from mental health problems in the City who may have had renewed hoped following the announcement, at the Liberal Democrat conference yesterday that their illness would have a greater priority for health resources in the future.

A period of uncertainty is certainly not what is required.

The Press and the Labour Leadership need to take a long hard look at themselves and how they have handled this issue.

More revelations on withdrawal of meals service for elderly

The York Council has admitted-  in a response to a Freedom of Information request – that it did not formally consult on ending the mid day meal service at its sheltered accommodation units.


Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Gale Farm Court Affected by meals decision

Instead any discussions centred around the quality of the meal on offer.

The cut was implemented on 1st October.

The Council has also blamed officials for the decision to end the meals service which it is intended will save £50,000 a year.

They say that the Labour Cabinet approved the budget cut but implementation was delegated to council officials.

The FOI response can be read by clicking here

Liberal Democrats are pressing for the meals service to be restored and have pointed to the £30,000 a year being spent on the empty Oliver House home as one source of alternative funding.

If the Liberal Democrats win the Westfield by election it is also likely that the number of £20,000 a year Cabinet posts will be reduced from the present level of eight.


Labour go ahead with threat to end meals for elderly

Lunch off menu at Gale Farm Court

Westfield Residents have lost out again from cavalier council.

Meals at sheltered housing in Gale Farm Court were axed by the council on 1st October despite protests by residents that the council had not given time for alternatives to be worked through.

Gale Farm Court

Gale Farm Court

Residents had been led to believe that the council was sorting out a better contract for the meals – but on 3rd September a letter was sent by the council to say that the meals were being stopped on 1st October

Residents do not have kitchens – indeed residents took on their flats on the understanding that they would have communal meal arrangements.

The letter had followed months of consultation where residents were led to believe that the council was simply sorting out a better provider- following complaints about the quality and unreliability of orders. The Council leader James Alexander had been approached in February at the “Westfield Community Conversation” event and had claimed that he wanted to sort the problem out!

Andrew Waller has been working with residents and companies who want to provide a service which means that residents don’t need to eat in isolation in their own flats. On behalf of the residents he wrote to Cabinet Councillor Lindsey Cunningham Cross to request that the old system continued until there had been a new one developed – in response she said that she would not comment on whether the scheme would or would not cease on 1st October…. until the 16th October.

Residents found out the hard way that the council was not going to budge.

Some taster sessions have been run by companies who want to bid for the work, but these have taken place after the council had stopped the communal meals. Andrew will be pressing with residents that a sustainable solution is brought forward.

Andrew said “The treatment of the residents of Gale Farm Court has been shocking. The axing of the service came out of the blue, and it seemed like the council had already written off the prospect of a replacement even before they sent out the letters at the beginning of September. I know that Cllr Lynn Jeffries had been working with the residents for months to get better meals.

Residents in council sheltered schemes deserve to be treated with respect by the council. They should have worked to provide a new solution before axing the old. It seems that the council is saying that it is trying to tackle social isolation in the area .. but actually does the opposite in practise. I am pleased that the residents have not taken this lying down, and have been pressing for a solution that they are able to choose a solution”.

Anorther high profile officer quits York Council

City of York Council has announced that Paul Edmondson-Jones, the Director of Health and Wellbeing, is leaving the council today in order to pursue opportunities and interests elsewhere.

A Council media release says, “Paul joined the council in 2013 as Director of Public Health to support the transfer of this new statutory service back to the council, at a time of significant change across the health sector.

Paul also took on responsibility for Adult Social Care. Working for the local authority and with the NHS and wider partners, Paul has lead on the responsibility for promoting and protecting health and wellbeing, tackling health inequalities and improving health care quality in the city”.

The Council’s social care programme has been hit by delayed projects, controversial plans to cut meals services for some elderly people as well as major budget overspends.

Recently auditors criticised the Council for failing to provide “value for money“.

The responsible Labour Councillor (Simpson-Laing) was sacked earlier in the year but her inexperienced successor seems to be even more out of her depth, as problems escalate.

Labour Council first to fail ‘value for money’ test

External auditors have offered only a “qualified” judgement on Labour run York Council’s 2013/14 accounts due to failings in adult social care.

Lowfields care village - 3 years behind schedule

Lowfields care village – 3 years behind schedule

At last night’s meeting of the council’s Audit & Governance Committee it was confirmed that auditors Mazars would only offer a “qualified” judgement on the council’s accounts, specifically their ‘Value for Money’ assessment.

A report presented to the committee said there were “weaknesses in budgetary control and financial management in Adult Social Care services….a lack of understanding and ownership of budgets….and performance information was limited”.

It said “during 2013/14 the service did not demonstrate an ability to address the issues that it faced” and financial arrangements in place were “not strong enough”.

The final announcement comes in the wake of serious delays in a  number of social care projects.

Key amongst these are plans to construct a state of the art centre on the Lowfields school site which would have made the service more efficient.

The project is 3 years behind scheduled and Labour Councillors have refused to reveal why, although no formal contract for the facility has yet been advertised for tender.

Cllr Nigel Ayre, Liberal Democrat Spokesperson for Health and a member of the Audit & Governance Committee, commented: