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This month with Paul McLain

Deputy Leader of Gloucestershire County Council and Cheltenham Borough Councillor

The adult safeguarding team recently presented me with an awkward situation. The parents of a female adult with learning disability (LD) had complained. Their daughter had chosen not to eat lunch at her day centre. Instead she had gone with friends to the local pub. My first reaction was a sharp intake of breath. But why shouldn’t an adult choose to go out with a group of friends for lemonade and a plate of cheesy chips? I’ve been to that day centre and being honest, I know which lunch I’d prefer.

It’s tough for any parent to watch children (of any age) exert their independence but unless we allow them to develop - and yes - make their own mistakes - they’ll never achieve their potential. Until the 1960s society institutionalised people with LD in asylums; because “it was best for them”. Until 1981, children with LD didn’t have the right to be
educated in mainstream schools or classes; because “it was best for them”. In 2001 educational discrimination was made unlawful. In 2012 we should be challenging why so many LD adults are spending so much time hidden away in Gloucestershire’s day centres. Don’t get me wrong. Day centres do some great work. But how many potential Paralympians are we stifling, because we know “it’s best for them”? Rant over.

Last month I wrote about Fifty Shades of Grey. Mrs M was not convinced. “No one wants to read a politician talking BDSM” quote she. Reaaalllly? But in deference, be honest. Will the Police Commissioner elections on November 15th pass you by? Never fear. After Christmas the political parties will start campaigning for the County Council elections. You can join in the fun by playing ‘pointing bingo’.

Check out every leaflet that lands on your doormat. Does it have an earnest local politician standing near - or pointing at - something? Lamppost? Pothole? Wonky bus stop? Believe me nothing escapes the politician’s finger. Keep a tally. We’re convinced it’ll make you vote for us.