I’m sorry that this is a bit long-winded but I must share with you my utter disgust at an email I received from Councillor David Roche. I was so disgusted that I have complained to Rotherham Council’s Standards and Ethics Committee.
For anyone who is interested the text of my complaint is below: –
I wish to complain about the conduct of Cllr Roche, which I believe breached the code of conduct in that he failed to treat me and others with respect (part 1. paragraph 3 (1).
My 35 year old sister Jenny has Downs syndrome and lives with my 74 year old mother. She attends the Oaks centre 5 times a week. The Oaks Centre will close as part of the Council’s Transformation of Learning Disability services, which was approved by Cabinet on 21 May 2018.
The closure of the Oaks will without doubt have a negative impact on the quality of life of my sister and my mother. My sister is already suffering clinical depression since she became aware of the impending closure and has been prescribed antidepressants.
Due to the impact upon my sister and mother I am organising a campaign involving service users, parents and carers to oppose the proposed closures. I believe I have conducted myself in a polite and respectful manner but I do not believe the same can be said for Councillor Roche.
On 11 June I emailed Cllr Roche to ask him to meet with my mother and 2 other parents, who do not feel that their voices have been heard. He agreed to the meeting.
At the Council meeting on 27 June I organised a protest, which was attended by a large number of service users, parents and carers. It attracted a good deal of media attention and a number of members of the public, including myself, asked questions regarding the proposed closures during the public questions part of the agenda.
The answer that Cllr Roche provided to my question and in particular his answer to my supplementary question caused me to have no faith in him. My sister Jenny should have an annual re-assessment but has not had one for 5 years. I asked Cllr Roche how could we have any confidence that individual assessments would be carried out for each of the 750 plus service users as promised before services are removed. Essentially his answer was that he accepted that the council has failed to carry out assessments but he is confident that it will carry out the assessments as promised. I do not accept that this is likely.
Since 27 June Cllr Roche has sent me a number of emails regarding the meeting with my mother and other parents. It seems apparent from those emails that he was becoming increasingly uncomfortable at the prospect of meeting us and his tone became less friendly and more curt. I don’t believe there is any legitimate reason why this should be the case.
On 10 July, after speaking to my mother and the 2 other parents, I emailed Cllr Roche as follows –
Thank you for agreeing to meet with us. However, after further consideration we have decided that the meeting would be of little value and therefore we don’t intend to waste anyone’s time. We will not be attending but thanks for agreeing to meet us.
At 01.08 on July 11 I received the following reply from Cllr Roche (cc’d to Ann Marie Lubanski, Emma Hill and Jenny Anderton) –
Thanks Robin, this has really confirmed my views as to the real purpose of the meeting.
More than happy at any time to try to answer the genuine concerns of any Carers or people with learning disabilities, not so happy to be attempted to be drawn in as part of a campaign to stop or delay the decision which I believe will be very damaging to those with learning disabilities
I am struggling to articulate just how offended I am by Cllr Roche’s email and his obvious suggestion that my concern for my disabled sister and elderly mother is not genuine. I am particularly offended by his inference that it is not legitimate to campaign, dissent or oppose the Council’s plans due to a genuine concern that those plans are misconceived and will be detrimental to my sister and mother. He seems to suggest that one may have genuine concerns or a desire to campaign to stop or delay the Council’s decision. Not only is this view misinformed and offensive but I believe it goes against the principles that are set out in the statement entitled A healthy system of democratic leadership and accountability, which is contained at the end of the Council’s code of conduct. I refer specifically to the following extract – We believe politics is about debate and sometimes argument. Such debate helps the Council decide what to do and how to do it. These words are hollow given the content of Cllr Roche’s email to me.
It appears to me that RMBC, if Cllr Roche is any indication, has learned nothing from the experience of the Casey Report and the circumstances giving rise to it. He displays a very worrying attitude towards someone with a dissenting voice; someone who wishes to appropriately challenge, debate or argue.
My intention, when trying to organise the meeting between Cllr Roche and 3 very worried elderly parents of people with profound learning disabilities, was merely to allow them to express their concerns to Cllr Roche. His inference that I had some ulterior motive is deeply offensive and utterly disrespectful (and unfounded).
Given the timing of Cllr Roche’s email (01.08 am) I appreciate that he may have been tired and emotional but that does not in any way excuse the utter disrespect that he showed towards me, my mother and 2 other parents in questioning our intentions. He has displayed a blatant disregard for the effects that the decision to close the centres is having on service users and parents/carers and a crass insensitivity that is not befitting of a Cabinet member and incongruous with the requirement to show leadership. I look forward to your reply.
Sign the petition: your help needed, please sign the petition
This post may be of interest to readers: Election Snippet 2 – David Roche and Hoober Ward