Campaigners force abandonment of social work council meeting

FIFE Councillors were forced to abandon a social work meeting this week after interruptions by home care campaigners led to chaos.

Members of the social work and health committee walked out after Campaign Against Charges protesters began shouting at the committee’s chairman, Councillor Tim Brett, and attempted to barricade the doors to trap councillors inside.

The move came after a report was given to the committee on the implementation of home care charges, which CAC have said is a “whitewash”.

The group also accused Cllr Brett of refusing to meet with them to discuss the charges.

Cllr Brett told The Press: “I was very disappointed with what happened, but not totally surprised given the group had previously disrupted a full council meeting.

“I have done my best to respond to questions from the group and in particular I will make arrangements for individual cases to be examined, but this needs to be done by social work staff, not by me.

“I really don’t see the point in sitting down with the group if this is their behaviour.”

CAC have said they took the decision to protest after “a great deal of thought and numerous attempts to strike up dialogue with Cllr Brett to highlight what is going wrong with the home care charging policy.”

Spokesman Maureen Closs added: “This has been a last resort and a sad indictment on what should have been a democratic and honest process.”

Before the meeting was disrupted, acting senior manager of older people’s services, Rona Laing, told councillors an additional £712,452 had been given out to home care customers in unclaimed benefits, and people continue to go to the social work department for services. She added that no one in Fife has cancelled their care as a result of the revised charging policy.

However, leader of the opposition, Councillor Alex Rowley, said the benefits checks should not have an effect on the charging policy.

He said: “Making sure people get the right benefits is something we should be encouraging in all services across the Council. It is wrong to confuse increasing people’s benefits with increasing home care charges. People who get benefits are entitled to them.

“Ultimately this row is a political one – it is a political decision that has been taken by a majority. I don’t believe that this report draws a line under the whole affair. It comes down to policies and we are not going to agree on that.”

After the protest the meeting was moved to another room, where a motion led by Councillor Andrew Roger and seconded by Cllr Rowley asked for the meeting to be adjourned so the public could attend.

Cllr Roger said: “I find it difficult to continue without members of the public here – this is not what Fife Council is about.”

However, this was overturned and councillors were reassured the meeting could continue without the public.

Councillors Rowley and Roger both left the meeting after stating it was wrong to continue without advising the public of where it was taking place.


It is important we establish these meeting do take place in public. We left because the public were not invited. The chairman of this committee seems to think he is the chief executive and can close discussions if he gets fed up.”
Councillor Alex Rowley
Leader of the opposition

Cllr Brett and his committee have totally lost touch with the people they are there to serve.
The press were in attendance at this meeting but other than that it was in secret. Is this democracy in action?
Maureen Closs,

I am appalled at the action of the campaign group.
They have had huge amounts of time, space and respect given by the Council, and that is all we want back.
We don’t want them to agree – they have a right to protest, but we are there to conduct business on behalf of the people of Fife.
What happened stopped that process from happening.
Councillor Alistair Hunter,