Council cuts could cost lives warn protestors

Protestors warn cuts to services for vulnerable adults could cost lives.
Protesters outside Midlothian Council.Protesters outside Midlothian Council.
Protesters outside Midlothian Council.

Protesters gathered outside Midlothian Council headquarters today amid claims cuts to services for some of the most vulnerable could cost lives.

Anger over the council’s decision to cut £250,000 from its Communities, Lifelong Learning and Employability (CLLE) team, saw dozens of people take to the streets.

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And they accused the local authority of being ‘as transparent as a muddy puddle’ when it came to how the service was going to make the savings.

Heather Brown, one of the organisers of the protest, said a public consultation held by Midlothian Council ahead of its meeting last month to agree its budget for the coming year made no mention of CLLE cuts.

In fact the decision to cut funding by an estimated 12 percent to the CLLE team was taken at a behind closed doors meeting of the council’s cross party Business Transformation Group an hour before councillors met in public to agree the budget for the coming year.

She said: “Like all local councils Midlothian Council have been forced to make budget cuts and have promised complete transparency over how they go about this. However Midlothian council have been about as transparent as a muddy puddle.

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“With no consultation to the public at all, one hour before the February meeting a decision was made to cut a quarter of a million from CLLE’s core budget.

“There will be an impact on all aspects of the service, from youth work to adult learning and community group support.

“If these cuts go unchallenged lives will be ruined, some lives may be lost.”

Heather, who lives in Dalkeith, says the service saved her life when she was struggling to leave her home after suffering from undiagnosed post natal depression.

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She joined a parents group run by CLLE which began with arts and crafts and led her to gain her school qualifications and go on to Open University gaining an English degree.

Now she works part time within the service providing classes herself after turning full circle through its support.

She said: “Thousands of the most vulnerable, marginalised, disadvantaged people across Midlothian have been helped by this service.

“We are protesting because we weren’t given the chance to voice our support before the decision to cut funding was taken and we should have been. If we let this go what will be cut next without any proper public consultation?”