Labour accused of ‘scaremongering’ over ARC charges

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A Tory councillor has accused Labour of “scaremongering” in the ongoing row over Dumfries and Galloway Council’s proposals to introduce charges for Adult Resource Centre users in the region.

This week, Galloway Labour MP Russell Brown submitted a freedom of information request to the council demanding full details about how this charge was introduced.

In May the council admitted that the report which supposedly introduced the charges contained an error because it did not state that a new charge was being brought in. A Labour motion calling for a full inquiry into the ARC charges was debated at a meeting of full council on Thursday, June 28, however Tory and SNP councillors united to block the inquiry.

Dumfries and Galloway MP Russell Brown said: “It’s time the council came clean on the ARC charges fiasco. Local people deserve to know why such a charge was slipped in by the backdoor. First we had the error in the original report, then we had the claim that no one had already paid ARC charges, when we know that isn’t correct. The whole thing is a mess and the council is now making it up as they go along. Labour forced the issue to be discussed at the council, but Tory and SNP councillors united to block calls for a full inquiry. That amounted to little short of a cover up, which is a clear sign they have something to hide.

But Conservative Mid Galloway Councillor Graham Nicol said: “This is just scaremongering. It is a typical reaction from the Labour Party who are manipulating the facts to suit their own ends. At the recent full council meeting any charging was suspended until Dumfries and Galloway Council take Senior Counsel’s opinion to check on the legality and the human rights aspect of these charges. It would appear that we are one of the few council’s who does not charge for ARC’s and it has the backing of COSLA and the Government.”

Councillor Andy Ferguson, chairman of the council’s Social Work Services Committee, said: “We’re aware of and understand the concerns of ARC users and their families. We’re determined to have a policy that is fair.”