A row has broken out over the use of thousands of pounds of public money to support a project which aims to help people with dementia remain active citizens in their community.
A partnership comprising of Alzheimer Scotland, Fife Elderly Forum, Active Fife, NHS Fife and Fife Council has been working towards the development of the Dementia Friendly Glenrothes project, and requested £28,000 to Alzheimer Scotland from the local community planning element of the area’s budget.
The scheme aims to make people in Glenrothes more aware of dementia and to support businesses and services to make simple adjustments to help sufferers – such as having the right kind of signage and lighting, having plenty of seating and removing rugs and mats as far as practicable.
But while members of the town’s area committee backed the idea, reservations have been raised about what taxpayers’ money will actually be spent on after it emerged the project office would not even be based in the town.
Councillor Fiona Grant had called for the cash to be delayed pending more information, namely on consultation with Age Concern Glenrothes who appear not to have been asked about the proposition, whether or not a worker could be employed by other means, perhaps through the council, and on other sources of funding.
She added that she supported the intended outcome of the project, but not so much the “mechanism” put before the committee.
“For me, it seems that far too little of this project will actually benefit the people of Glenrothes who will be paying for a member of staff not even based in Glenrothes,” she stressed.
“Out of £40,000, it reads to me as if only £5,000 is actually going to be spent on anything, and I can’t agree to the management costs when my understanding is that Alzheimer Scotland has got millions in the bank.
“We’ve all said that we would like Glenrothes to become a more dementia friendly place, but I’m unconvinced that this is the best way of doing it.”
Councillor Ross Vettraino added that spending almost £2,800 on management costs and £1,350 on office costs for a base which would be in Kirkcaldy was “unforgivable”.
“I don’t think this is good use of public money,” he added.
However, the £28,000 was approved after committee members voted 6-5 in favour, with the caveat that more clarity on some of the numbers was provided.
“I don’t like delaying the right thing to do so I think we should say yes, but we need to work on the budget,” said councillor Altany Craik.
“I’d rather get the work started then worry about tidying up the rest of it later.
“It’s not perfect but I think we shouldn’t delay it because it could be three, four, five, six months down the line before we get anywhere with this.”
Councillor John Wincott agreed, adding that he had been involved in a similar approach in Leslie last year which failed to get off the ground due to a lack of funding.
“Dementia friendly communities are a way of helping us in many different ways and this is one of the most cost effective pounds you could spend,” he concluded.
“The longer dementia sufferers can remain in their own environment the better and if we can make communities more accessible then it helps.
“It costs many times more to look after someone in care.”