Carmarthenshire councillors ignore the rights of Noddfa Teilo Day users

Passionate speech by Rhian Barr fails to move Independent/Labour councillors

On Wednesday 8th June 2011 about twenty people made up of service users of Noddfa Teilo Day Club, trade unionists, Llanelli Anti-Cuts Campaign and Community Activists lobbied Carmarthenshire County Council meeting. We were there campaigning against the closure of Noddfa Teilo and to support Rhian Barr who by collecting 1,700 hundred signatures against the closure was by right allowed to address the full council.

First we had to sit through a prayer and then the back slapping of council members who congratulated some local sporting celebrities on their achievements. Tenuous links were discovered so that councillors could bath in the afterglow of Swansea City’s promotion to the premier division. While praising Stephen Jones on getting 100 caps etc. was fine it was not lost on the campaigners present that the council could find time to talk sport but the Council were not prepared to debate the closure of Noddfa Teilo.

It also appeared that the irony of saying a prayer and closing Noddfa Teilo was also lost on most of the councillors. Rhian (aged 75) gave an emotional heart rendering speech, she criticised the council for the speed and the manner the council had closed the day club.

Rhian told councillors they had read the council reports and budgets but had they considered or given any thought to the people the closure affected. Rhian read out some comments from Grace (who had previously chained herself to the railings of Noddfa Teilo in protest against the closure). Grace who is aged 91 wrote the following ‘If we cannot attend the club we will lose contact with our friends, friendships we have built up over many years. The Day Club gives most of us a reason to get up in the morning and make ourselves presentable. Our Club gives us a purpose… a meaning…a day of companionship…to belong… feel we matter… and have people who care about us. Some of us are getting on a bit, but we still have a voice. We have seen and experienced so much, war and peace, good times and hard times…but we still count, and we need our community, .our council, to look after us…. You will need it too one day.’

Rhian explained how the Day Club was a lifeline for many and how many would not leave their home all week if they were not attending the Day Club. She accused the Council of offloading its responsibilities to the voluntary sector without a proper assessment of the needs of the people it affected. Rhian called on the council to acknowledge that they were going against the wishes of the community and to reverse their decision to close Noddfa Teilo.

Many a councillor listened to Rhian with a bowed head and averted eyes but none, including Plaid who says they oppose the closure, would support Sian Caiach’s attempt to further debate the issue. If the Independent/Labour coalition won’t fight the cuts they should make way for those that will. We give this message again to them they will find voting for cuts a lot easier than implementing them.

Unison member and Anti Cuts campaigner

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