Leader of City of York Council James Alexander at One Voice York

Speaking to One Voice York today was leader of the Labour Group in City of York Council, Councillor James Alexander. He came to our One Voice York breakfast today, Wed 22 June 2011, and addressed us about the challenges and opportunities facing the city.

As I shared a table with him at the breakfast I was able to mention some things to him. I said I thought the Council web site was poor. He whipped out his phone and showed me the new one. Much improved look.

Contents is still poor though. Try finding on the web site how you can get an Adult Social Care Initial assessment. Perhaps if you can find it you don’t need it. I eventually found the text: “If you think you may require help, contact our Initial Assessment and Safeguarding Team, see back page for details…” Back page? Perhaps the text was lifted from an old leaflet.

I noticed the striking new red banner, which must appeal to a labour supporter. I suggested that in future if each ruling party put their colour there the citizens would be in no doubt who was in power after each election.

I told him I had an awkward question for him about older people in the question time.

This was it:
“The Joseph Rountree trust produced a report in 2000: 20.1% of York population were then over pension age. Over the next 10 years they predicted a 10% growth in over 65’s and a 17% growth of over 85’s.

It happened. The ticking time bomb went off. Currently, council staff taking referrals are unable to cope with calls, having to work overtime trying to deal with all the calls and the documentation that follows.

Once callers they get through, older people in York in great need are waiting 3 months for a social care assessment. After assessment they are often finding the care is either not available of very indifferent quality.

Is the council equipped to deal with these demographic changes?”

His honest reply was that they are not. He then went on to speak about some of the ways they would like to tackle this and other issues.

I was talking with him later and expressed my view that one problem with adult social care is that in a locality, a preferred provider of social care ends up with a monopoly. Once a provider has a monopoly locally, standards go down and there is little choice for the users of the service.

I don’t think any of my comments or questions were wasted. He will go far.

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