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Mums angry at council boss over care remarks.

Byline: Peter Law Chief Reporter peter.law@walesonline.co.uk

MOTHERS of disabled children say they are "disgusted" by the claims of a council boss that their campaign against changes to care services is being "orchestrated" by a trade union.

The allegation is contained in a letter to Cardiff North MP Jonathan Evans from Cardiff council's Nick Jarman, who until this week was the officer in charge of children's services at the authority. It was sent to the Conservative MP after he made representations on behalf of parents concerned about changes to how services, such as respite care, are provided to disabled children.

Mr Jarman states that last June an "improvement programme" into children's services reached the council's Child Health and Disability Team (CHAD). It found, he wrote, some "extremely sub-optimal practices in CHAD, which required immediate, corrective action". The Labour-run authority has since introduced new eligibility criteria and agreed to cut PS80,000 of funding for overnight respite care, despite the protests of some parents.

A number of council staff were also suspended in November following an internal audit of cases handled by CHAD. Mr Jarman, who joins Neath Port Talbot council next month, told Mr Evans: "What you are experiencing is, if I may use the vernacular, 'push back' orchestrated by some CHAD staff and their trade union representatives, who have reacted badly to the wholly justified, decisive management action taken over CHAD, once these problems came to light."

He goes on to say it is "simply not true" to assert that respite care has been withdrawn, adding: "This illustrates the way in which inflammatory statements and rumours have been used to foment discontent."

Mums Martine O'Callaghan and Hayley Norris launched the CWTCH Network - which stands for Carers Working Towards Change - earlier this year to fight the funding cut to overnight respite care.

Martine, of Fairwater, whose four-year-old son Cledwyn is severely autistic, said: "We are not union puppets."

Hayley, whose son Jonah, six, has undiagnosed disabilities, added: "We were just disgusted by it."

A council spokeswoman said the budget set for 2013/14 increased investment in children's services by 4.3%.

"The budget for respite care this year is over PS2m, and is overspent by more than PS300,000.

"This clearly demonstrates that we provide respite to any child who requires it as part of their care plan," she said."

| We Say: page 14

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| Martine O'Callaghan and Hayley Norris with their children Cledwyn and Jonah PICTURE: Matthew Horwood (c)
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Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Geographic Code:6CHAD
Date:Apr 13, 2013
Words:414
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