We didn't get any reply and we didn't think much more about it until we noticed our elected representative had written a piece in the local newspaper about the need for "accountability and transparency" in Council affairs. So we emailed him and he provided us with a list of the members and their background.
There were senior social workers, a local GP, a person with a background in mental health, a Deputy Head of a local school and a former manager of a Children's Home.
What there didn't seem to be was anybody who had been user of the service and this was, as far as Ella and I could see it, a serious gap. So we wrote a letter to the Chairperson of the Working Party. It wasn't a long letter (busy people don't seem to read long letters), it wasn't a rude letter either but it did ask about the gap.
We were pleased and surprised when he phoned us one evening. We were not pleased or surprised at what he had to say!
It had clearly never crossed his mind that the users of a system might have some useful observations about how well the system operates. He mentioned - while boasting about how busy and important he was - that he travels to London by train once a week. He said that it was "right and proper" that rail users should have a "loud voice" in any debate but couldn't or wouldn't see why that should also apply to his Working Party of Children's Home provision.
He had a whole list of reasons why our suggestions to make the group more useful were "impractical".
- Either of us being present at meetings "would inhibit the free flow of ideas".
- The members of the group are all busy professional people who are "mindful" of the "relevant financial constraints".
- His is a "high powered" group and we would find attending a group meeting "too stressful"
It all came down the fact that he didn't want to hear any opinion that differed from his own.