Thursday 21 April 2011

Citizens 4 : Birmingham Council 0. Celebrate!

Fantastic news as I get home and flop on the sofa. The High Court have found against Birmingham City Council in a case brought by 4 severely disabled people who fought the disgraceful decision by the Council to limit or remove their care.

Can you imagine what the Council were planning to do ? A 25 year old man with a rare genetic disorder and learning difficulties who needs 24 hour care in a home paid for by the Council was to lose this. The High Court have said the decision was unlawful.

This is a brilliant decision. Too many councils have made bad decisions like this. There will be other legal challenges. I hope all third sector bodies challenge bad decisions and use the courts to protect vulnerable citizens. Judicial Review should be a crucial tool in our box of tricks when fighting for our beneficiaries. Equalities and disability law should be enforced. And it is our job to see they are. I hope all councils take note!

But we ought to be moving to a better relationship between councils and the third sector. What councils need to do before they go for bad decisions , is to talk to the sector and look at alternative ways to provide services through the sector. That might be through local or national charities and social enterprises.

That is why the proposed statutory guidance by Eric Pickles is so important. Telling councils to have a 3 month pause before implementing decisions like this whilst discussions take place.

ACEVO is planning a top level strategic awayday for our CEOs from the third sector and from councils. Let's get the relationship better!

In the meantime let's celebrate the power of citizens and the victory over arbitrary council power.

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