'Ejiofor leadership took significant steps to improve social care services'
Mary Langan, chair, Severe and Complex Needs Group
- Credit: Martin Ball
It is nearly ten years since Haringey Council embarked on the austerity programme that led to drastic cuts in social care services and closures of numerous day centres and residential care homes.
Shutting the specialist centre for people with autism and complex needs, for example, caused great distress to many families.
The harsh austerity programme enforced by the council, under the leadership of Claire Kober, provoked a determined grassroots campaign, led by Save Autism Services Haringey, which evolved into the Severe and Complex Learning Disability group.
This campaign has never stopped fighting to restore 'buildings-based’ services. This year its efforts have been rewarded by the opening of the Chad Gordon Campus, including the Haringey Opportunities Project for people with complex needs.
The key to the change in council social care policy was the election in 2018 of a new group of councillors who were prepared to listen to the voice of local families.
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The new leadership elected under Joe Ejiofor was not the result, as some have described it, of a purge by supporters of the former national Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn.
In addition to widespread public outrage over the council’s austerity cuts, there was a popular revolt against Clare Kober’s council and its Haringey Development Vehicle, a widely detested housing venture jointly promoted by the council and the private property giant Lendlease.
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As the mother of a young man with autism and learning disabilities, I was delighted to see the back of hard-hearted Labour councillors prepared to promote private enterprise while cutting vital public services to its vulnerable citizens.
Since 2018, the Ejiofor leadership has taken significant steps to improve social care services. It is reopening the Osborne Grove nursing home and has redeveloped two new day centres for adults with autism and learning disabilities.
The council has upgraded supported living facilities for adults with complex needs at Linden House and is developing supported living units for severely disabled youngsters in White Hart Lane.
The direction of the new leadership under Peray Ahmet remains to be seen, but the legacy of Joe Ejiofor offers a much more promising basis than the baleful record of the previous council regime.