Disabled group takes protest to parallel conference

A group of disabled people held an alternative conference in parallel to the main event in protest at the loss of user-led control over independent living centres.

The group, representing about 70 user-led organisations, claimed that “serious difficulties” in the procurement process meant local user-led organisations were losing contracts to others that were “not accountable” to local users.

Group spokesperson Ian Loynes said: “Many of our organisations have been closed down, and many of the advances in the user-led movement have been lost. Local user-led organisations should be valued for the important role they play and not have their existence jeopardised by the procurement process.”

Despite intensive lobbying of the Association of Directors of Social Services and the Local Government Association, the group was refused a platform in the main conference. But after negotiations it was agreed that ADSS president Julie Jones would raise their concerns in her speech.

She said: “The parallel conference has asked ADSS to help with the procurement processes that are killing service user-led organisations. We see it as urgent to engage in dialogue to that end.”

Some members of the group were angered that only four representatives were eventually invited into the conference, provoking one to quip: “We will only be allowed in with tape over our mouths.”

John Knight, head of policy at disability charity Leonard Cheshire, said health secretary Patricia Hewitt had promised to look at the concerns.

More from Community Care

Comments are closed.