IT IS "too easy" for the needs of disabled and vulnerable people to "fall between the cracks of services", a Gwent AM has said.

South Wales East's Delyth Jewell was speaking in the Assembly this week after a High Court judge overturned a decision by Caerphilly County Borough Council to close Pontllanfraith Leisure Centre, saying it had failed to take into account the impact on disadvantaged people in the area.

The Plaid Cymru AM said she was concerned this was just one example of the way in which the needs of vulnerable people were not properly being addressed by public services in Wales.


Addressing deputy minister and chief whip Jane Hutt she said the council had "failed in its duties to disadvantaged people" and asked how the Welsh Government planned to ensure local authorities comply with equality legislation.

"Vulnerable people's needs are too often neglected due to their voices not being heard and pressures caused by austerity," she said.

"It's too easy for them to fall between the cracks of services when referrals aren't chased up and services don't talk to one another.

"When people are vulnerable, be they victims of abuse, those with alcohol and drug addiction, people who are homeless, veterans of the armed forces, it affects every aspect of their life."

South Wales Argus:

Delyth Jewell

She asked: "Could you tell me what work the Welsh Government is putting in place to strengthen referral pathways for people in these precarious situations to reduce the number of cases that drop off the books?"

The minister replied the Welsh Government was "looking to strengthen the outcome" of local authorities' equality duties.

"They have to ensure that they are meeting the needs of our most vulnerable, but particularly those with protected characteristics," she said. "So, this is an issue where, of course, we have to work collaboratively with our local authorities, recognising the pressures that they're under, but ensuring that the voices of people, particularly those who are the most vulnerable, are heard."

The High Court did not uphold a legal challenge against closing the leisure centre, which costs the council around £10,000 a month to run, meaning it could close in the future.

But council leader Cllr David Poole has warned further cuts will be needed to meet the costs of keeping the centre open, as well as legal costs incurred in the case.