Dumfries and Galloway Council social care party cancelled over cost

A party which would have cost council tax payers in Dumfries and Galloway about £13,000 has been cancelled.

The decision to call off The Big Thank You, which recognises the work of people providing social care, came in the face of political pressure.

Labour group councillors had called the event “badly judged” at a time of cuts and said the cost was “extortionate”.

Tory council leader Ivor Hyslop said he had asked for it to be cancelled but denied it was due to Labour’s actions.

The Big Thank You is an awards ceremony to recognise the work and contribution of people involved in social care provision in Dumfries and Galloway.

Last year’s £13,000 event held at Easterbrook Hall in Dumfries was the first but now appears likely to be the last.

Labour group leader Ronnie Nicholson said he felt the costs were too high and the timing was wrong.

He said: “I cannot underestimate the value of the work social services staff do in this area, and they deserve huge praise for it.

“However, the extortionate cost of The Big Thank You party is completely absurd at a time when many elderly and disabled people are having their care charges increased.

“In fact, staff members I have spoken to about the event are quite embarrassed at the cost of this party to the taxpayer.”

Mr Hyslop said that at the start of this week, before Labour issued its criticism of the event, the Tory/Lib Dem administration had already contacted the chief executive with a “firm proposal” to cancel the event.
‘All talk’

“I find it galling that the Labour group claims to be acting on this issue,” he said.

“As always they are too keen to capture a quick headline rather than do something.”

He added the council would now find a “proportionate, internal and cost-effective way” of recognising achievements in social care.

Lib Dem leader Sandra McDowall echoed his views and accused the Labour group of being “all talk and no action”.

The leader of the SNP group, Rob Davidson, said he had also voiced concerns that the event was not the “right way” to recognise staff.

He added: “Not only does it give the wrong message in times of increasing financial stringency, it is also divisive since it only benefits staff in one service.

“I have therefore asked the chief executive to look at a council-wide way of recognising exceptional effort or innovation.

“That should include all staff but be more in tune with the public’s expectations at a time of severe budget cuts.”