Social Services

During the 13 years from 1984 to 1997, despite the need for continuity in such an important area of service provision, there were six chairs of the Social Services Committee and no-one in post of Director for 14 months between the departure of Irene Walton, who was pushed out by the Labour Group leadership, and the succession of Mike Bishop, who was previously Director of Social Services at the headlining Cleveland County Council. This chapter covers those changes and the responses to failing standards in the Council’s elderly persons’ homes (EPHs) and the requirements of the Care in the Community legislation.
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An Uncontroversial Service
Early Retirement of the Director of Social Services
Council’s Elderly Persons’ Homes in a Poor State
Recruiting a New Director
Passing on Council Owned Care Homes
People with Learning Disabilities and Mental Health Issues
Closing and Transferring More EPHs
More Care in Some Communities than Others


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Editor’s Comments

I have shortened this chapter a little by removing a section that had insufficient information to give a clear story and was not substantiated with a source of the information. I have added the sub-headings and there have been other typographical edits.


[1] Kath Robinson had tremendous empathy with the purpose of Social Services and was the type of councillor to respond helpfully to constituents’ telephone calls on a Saturday night when the vast majority of councillors wanted a break from being on constant call.

[2] There was much debate, both locally and in other authorities, about the extent to which it was desirable to include Social Services staff in neighbourhood offices. The extreme case was in Islington where maximum involvement was insisted upon by politicians. The consequences of this were still being discussed two decades later, when Margaret Hodge, as children’s minister, was heavily criticised for leaving children vulnerable during her time as leader of Islington Council in the 1980s when neighbourhood services were developed and implemented in the borough

[3] David Black wasn’t a member of the Social Services Committee at this time point, but a place was created by the withdrawal from the committee of Keith Bradley, who had become an MP in the 1987 election (and was also Rhona Graham’s partner).

[4] No more than two residents to a room; an 80/20 split of single and double rooms; no more than 40 residents in a home in the short/medium term; no more than 32 residents to a home in the longer term. These were the standards applied to private homes in order to achieve registration.

[5] The closures were Northfields EPH in New Moston, Heyhead View EPH in Wythenshawe, and Briarfields EPH in Hulme. Those converted to EPRUs were Hillside in Chorlton, Weylands in Wythenshawe, and Woodville in Crumpsall, which were added to the existing EPRUs in Minehead and Aked Close.

[6] National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990

[7] The acronym stood for South East Lancashire and North East Cheshire as these were the two county councils that originally set up the network of services, homes and workshops for disabled people.

[8] Which obliged local authorities to provide suitable accommodation for those who through infirmity, age, or any other reason were in need of care and attention not otherwise available.

[9] Arnold Spencer was Chair of Planning Committee 1984-1988, Chair of Planning and Highways Committee 1990-93 and Chair of Environmental Planning Committee 1993-95 – see Chapter 25 and Appendix 25A.

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