I was born and brought up in Halifax but left in 1985 as career moves took me and my family all over Britain. Now retired, I have returned to my roots.
I have to say that, although the roads are still the worst in Britain, as they have been since beyond living memory, it is a pleasure to be back. People are open and friendly, the scenery and views are magnificent, there are gorgeous old buildings everywhere – need I go on?
One of the real pleasures in moving back has been the discovery of the Calder Valley Club, which provides services for physically disabled people at its centre in Mytholmroyd.
Our son is wheelchair bound and has started attending the club, and we can honestly say that it exceeds anything we have found anywhere for its care and the quality of its service provision. But now we understand that, because of goings-on at Calderdale Council, the club’s future is in jeopardy.
The club has been required to tender for the provision of the services that it has been providing for the last 18 years. I know councils are under pressure to secure best value for public money, but this seems just a little odd. Anyway, the club successfully got through the pre-tendering selection process, and was working on its tender when, out of the blue, the council said it was changing the tendering conditions. Now, instead of tendering for their own service provision, they would have to tender for a wider range of services. This they feel would be beyond the scope of their resources. Basically they have to tender for all or nothing. Both staff and service users are bewildered and upset.
This has to raise serious questions about the way Calderdale Council operates. Why was the change made part-way through the process? Was it wrong first time around? If so, why? Doesn’t the Council have Quality Assurance or ‘right first-time management’ systems?.
Public sector tendering is all about securing best value in a way that is transparent and beyond reproach. The Council should be able to demonstrate the probity of what it does. So, why has no-one at the Council yet explained to the club why the change was necessary? Why won’t they even reply to the club’s e-mails?
And why have they failed to provide a Disability Equality Impact Assessment to those who have requested them? This would show what effect the change in tendering would have on the provision of services.
I rang the Council’s Contract Section to register a formal complaint but, do you know what, there was no-one in who could take my call. So I rang the Council’s Complaints number, and they said that if this was a councillor’s decision, I could not use the complaints procedure. Why not? I thought that, in a democracy, councillors were answerable to the populace, not the other way round. And I still cannot get anyone at the council to tell me whose decision it was to change the tendering process.
Calderdale Council makes great play of its “Everyone’s different, everyone matters” strapline. Are these just words? Do the service users at Calder Valley Club matter? Or will these words now be deleted from council vehicles and documentation?
There are issues here of strategic importance and they cannot go unresolved if Calderdale Council places any value on its own reputation. I trust that the Chief Executive will recognise this and will give an assurance to the “Courier” that he will personally investigate this saga and report openly and fully on his findings. More importantly, can we have his assurance that he will make contact in person with the Calder Valley Club and discuss the situation with them?
Lyndon R Shearman