Scottish Borders Council leader admits: 'We got it wrong’ over day care service closure

Councillor Euan Jardine, Leader of Scottish Borders Council Credit: Scottish Borders Council

A council leader has admitted the authority "got it wrong" after a judge ruled that a day care service for the elderly was unlawfully closed.

Councillor Euan Jardine, the Conservative leader of Scottish Borders Council made the admission following last week's finding by Lady Carmichael.

She said the local authority had failed to conduct an equality impact assessment or properly consult with service users when it closed the Teviot Day Service, based at the Katharine Elliot Centre in Hawick, back in 2019.

Scottish Borders Council was presented with a report prepared by Nuala McKinlay, the authority’s chief legal officer, in which she said: “This matter is complex and it is extremely important that SBC takes the correct steps to move forward”.

As part of a review of day care services for the elderly the decision was also taken in 2019 to decommission services in Eyemouth, Kelso, Jedburgh, Galashiels and Peebles.

Now an action plan is being drawn up to address the legal decision and its implications on day services for the elderly across the Borders.

Galashiels & District’s Cllr Jardine said: “We got it wrong and this report is a lesson and we must learn from it.  We must carry out the next steps effectively, transparently and openly.

“We must also remember that behind every decision in this chamber are choices that will impact service users. We must always have service users at the heart of what we do. I also want to note that action is required over the wider programme that must be considered over the next few months.

“I would also like to apologise unreservedly to service users and their families for any distress they may have suffered in this matter and also to those who have been denied an opportunity to access the services due to the closures.”

Hawick and Denholm’s cllr Clair Ramage added: “From the very beginning I couldn’t understand why this happened. I used to go into Teviot Day Centre frequently and had lunch and the staff were just amazing.

“Those that were attending the centre with dementia were so well looked after and entertained. But the most important thing for me was the respite for the carers.

“We all got a letter from the lady in Stow who explained very clearly the fact that she was looking after her husband with dementia and she was going to be allowed respite, but there was no respite to be had.

“I’m pleased to hear that we are looking with urgency at the day service and putting forward an action plan and I just hope we can make this happen very quickly.”