Accord Centre Campaign Update
Carers from the Accord Centre campaign today met with supporters including Glasgow Games Monitor 2014, UkUncut, Free Hetherington University occupation and other individuals at the Free Hetherington. They talked of how they had been inspired by their links with these supporters and others, including Citizens United Against Cuts and the Glasgow Defence Campaign. James Kelman, the great Glaswegian writer, put this form of solidarity well when he once said: ‘Courage begets courage’. This is as true now as it was when he said it – and mutual solidarity will be more important than ever as we challenge the deeply unfair and ever deepening cuts upon the poorest and most vulnerable members of society.
The Save the Accord Centre carers updated us on their situation. As of yet, they still have not been allocated any premises to replace their old faciltity in Dalmarnock which is making way for a buspark for the Commonwealth Games in 2014. The carers are demanding ‘like-for-like’ replacement for what they have lost, as their children have severe learning difficulties and associated special needs – it is simply not good enough to just fob them off with any old building.
The City Council, meanwhile seem determined to place the carers and service users of the Accord Centre in the Bambury centre in Barrowfield near Parkhead stadium. The Accord Centre management have been taking individual carers up to the centre as a means to convince them this is the correct idea – in fact, the only idea. Aside from the fact that this conduct breaches disability discrimination rights to a proper consultation, the carers were not told by management that other family members could attend the meetings which has had the effect of isolating certain members and making them vulnerable to persuasion.
Tommy, a disability rights organiser who was present at the meeting, argued that the City Council were riding roughshod over the carers. He is currently voluntarily helping the carers with these issues. The Bambury Centre, which is currently a not-for-profit organisation run and managed by the local community, is apparently up for sale, and strong rumours abound that the City Council are the preferred bidders. Meanwhile, East Carers Group, set up to advocate for carers in the area, have been asking for clarification and further meetings with the City Council and have been persistently denied.
We have no doubt the City Council will argue that the offer of the Bambury Centre is sufficient for the carers and their children, and try to suggest that they are just being greedy or akward if they refuse it. This is an old tactic and should be met with the derision it deserves. If the City Council would actually speak to the carers they would understand that the Bambury Centre is just not suitable for children with severe learning disabilities, and is in no way a ‘like-for-like’ replacement for what is being lost at the Accord centre.
What is also very important to note is that shifting the carers and users of the Accord Centre across to the Bambury centre against their will is only going to put more pressure on limited resources at the Bambury Centre, pitting one under-funded community against another. For instance, the carers reported cases of Bambury Centre users who were already being denied access to the centre presently. Adding the Accord Centre users to the mix is only likely to lead to more ‘divide-and-rule’ in the local area, with communities fighting against each other rather than the City Council which has caused the problem in the first place – by capitulating to funding big business and property developers at the expense of local community facilities.
But the Save the Accord Centre campaign isn’t going to take anything lying down. With the help of supporters they will be constituting themselves as a formal group, and they intend to pursue legal action under the disability discrimination act. They will also continue leafletting in the local area and taking part in demonstrations and actions with others in order to raise the profile of their campaign and challenge the media whitewash about the Commonwealth Games. The fact that people with severe learning disabilities and their carers are being treated so abominably right next to the Commonwealth Games Village site is an embarrassment to the City Council and the Scottish government and makes a mockery of the Games Legacy claims.
Until either one of these bodies sorts out the situation in a way that is satisfactory to the campaigners, this whole episode will remain as a sorry stain on the Commonweath Games 2014. The carers of the Accord Centre are not going to let that stain go away until they see justice, and neither will we.