Council leader slams his own party for treating elderly 'without dignity'
PUBLISHED: 07:00 19 January 2018
North Somerset's leading councillor has launched a public attack on his own party by slamming the Government's era of austerity for treating elderly people 'without respect'.
Nigel Ashton has been leader of North Somerset Council since 2007, but has served on the council since 1991 – and has represented the Conservative Party throughout that time.
However that has not prevented him from turning on the party in a stinging attack in the latest edition of council magazine North Somerset Life.
Cllr Ashton has used his column in the magazine to hit out at the Tory Government’s failure to award more funding to councils to help bridge a funding gap and ensure vital services for vulnerable people are maintained.
He has previously criticised what he has described as ‘disgraceful’ funding awards to local authorities on his way to overseeing £100million of cuts in local spending since 2010.
However, he has now lashed out at the whole austerity ideology by accusing the Government of ignoring a problem it considers ‘too difficult’ while prioritising the wrong spending.
Cllr Ashton said: “During six years of funding cuts, each year has been more difficult than the last as the council has to do things that were previously rejected as being unacceptable. At the same time the demand for care services, for elderly people and children, has seen huge growth.
“I’m told there is a £2billion deficit for care services but it is reported as an academic fact; Government officials don’t seem to relate that to real life.
“Successive Governments are adamant they understand the funding gap but then expect councils to cope. What on earth does that mean?
“We treat our elderly without respect but at least we can get to London a few minutes faster. We treat our elderly without dignity but at least we will soon be able to buy a driverless car. Are these really higher priorities?
“None of us came into local government to make these cuts but across the country, councils, their staff and local councillors will be understandably criticised for putting up charges but cutting important services that communities want, need and feel they pay for, because central Government still seems to have the problems of an ageing population on the ‘too difficult’ pile.”