Friday, 19 February 2010

Local Blog: Look In Some Answers

I recently received an email after I asked Councillor Clifton Thompson some questions on the Look In Cafe. This is after I blogged on the concerns of a local campaigner contacted me and Ray Earwicker Lib Dem PPC has called for Cllr Thompson to go as Older Peoples Champion SeeLocal Blog: The Look In Cafe Campaign Continues

Councillor Clifton Thompson email is below;

Hi Darren

Thank you for inviting me to have my say on the Look In. As you will
now know the Council has issued a press release confirming that the Look
In will remain open thanks to the establishment of a new organisation
the Look In Community Café organised by Bracknell Forest Voluntary

I have worked closely with the Council's Executive member for adult
services to find an alternative operator. Possible alternatives
included whether the ground Floor of the Council's offices at
Easthampstead House could be used or even the library . If BFVA had not
been able to find a new operator these options would have been
considered as we fully recognise the value of a port of call for our
older residents..

The Council opened and provided the Look In for a number of years
with a significant subsidy.. This was not a statutory obligation placed
on the Council but the choice of the Council to provide the facility .
Latterly each year the Council has come under continuing pressure to
make savings in its budget . For the coming financial year it has had to
make savings of over £3 million. When it was recognised that the Look
In subsidy could not continue without change work started, before the
budget consultation began, to find a solution.

You asked if I agreed with the Council allowance cut as suggested by
the Labour group. Councillors allowances are subject to regular review
by an independent panel to establish what the panel considers fair
and reasonable . Allowances were introduced by the Labour Government
to attract councillors and I believe should not be interfered with.
They are an easy target and this is not the first time they have
featured.. The basic fact that is that the situation arose because
Government financial controls over recent years has seen a reduction in
real terms of the amount the Council has available to spend.

You have also asked if I can let you know what a community café is -
as I see it it is a café run by the community - ie a voluntary group.

I welcome the fact that a solution has been found enabling the café
to remain open for the over 50s.


Clifton Thompson
Older Peoples Champion
Councillor Bracknell Forest Borough Council
Warfield Harvest Ride Ward

It appears that the cafe will also be open to the over 50's

Please let me have your comments


  1. Bracknell Resident19 February 2010 at 23:07

    It is a pity that Cliff Thompson did not come to the march and say this - or reply to my email asking various questions!
    He has confirmed that it will be open to the over 50s. This does not actually say the over 50s ONLY. Will it (as a 'community cafe' be open to the under 50s too??

    I don't like the tone of Dale Birch's statement "Use it or lose it".
    If it is not a place the over 50s are happy to be, why should they use it??
    Use it or lose it puts the onus squarely away from the council. No blame there then.
    No change there then either.

  2. Dale Birth I think is trying to get though on the Look Inn, I think that if they keep it open they will close it later saying that it did not get the use, an extra cut for next year. There is a long battle ahead or perhaps more battles to come

  3. Council Tax payer20 February 2010 at 11:35

    If this person is the "Older People's Champion" then Gawd help us...

    Presumably this response is only as a result of the public outcry when the closure was announced and the subsequent petition and march to save the Look In. A pity that the "Older People's Champion" didn't feel it necessary to champion older people until reminded of his fancy title.

    Why do we have so many local councillors and what do they all do? I've a simple cost cutting measure - let's elect just one councillor per ward - an immediate saving of 24 sets of allowances, travel expenses, etc. That would leave 18 councillors for Bracknell Forest - more than enough IMO.

  4. Regarding councllors allowances, last year they amounted to over £500,000 for councillos on Bracknell Forest Borough Council, that does not include expenses. Set against this figure the Look In cost only £60,000, clearly the councillors see their own allowances as more important to our community that funding a cafe for our over fifties. Somehow this seems like double standards to me.

  5. Many thanks to Darren for badgering Cllr. Thompson into putting his views forward. Darren & the other s who have put up Blogs have done a great job.
    I hope Cllr Thompson has bought these Blogs to the attention of his fellow councilors as they show that 99.9% of people are still concerned over the future of The Look In.
    It’s a shame that many Look In users do not use the internet & Blogs. If they did there would be many more concerns posted.
    I wonder why Cllr Thompson did not show his face at the March, where he could have received the views of the users?
    I wonder why Cllr Birch & Martin Gillman (manager of BFVA) would not be interviewed by Meridian TV INSIDE the look In in front of the users as the users were?
    I feel this whole scenario has been handled badly. My fears are: will it continue to be handled badly once this new body is running the Look In?

  6. I agree with Freda and share her concerns regarding the future running of the Look In.
    I also agree with Bracknell Resident that Cllr Birch's use of 'Use it or Lose It' sounds threatening. If it is a success in it's new guise then Mr Birch and cohorts will pat themselves on the back. If it fails - nothing to do with us, we told you to use it or lose it.

  7. I was shocked to hear from terry pearce that councillors allowances amounted to some £500,000! Plus expenses of course (heaven forbid they should do anything for nothing).
    And they would not take a 5% cut when it was suggested! Are they living in the real world where people are still being made redundant and many others are taking cuts rather than lose their jobs. Shame on you BFBC councillors.