In a meeting about mental health services, a Tory counsellor in Torbay expressed regret that workhouses had been closed down.
The counsellor, Michael Hytche, was condemned by other counsellors in Torbay Council in Devon. Councillors said that instead of lobbying to keep existing services, Mr Hytche’s only contribution to the meeting was reportedly to lament the loss of a system whereby the poor and mentally ill were required to carry out manual labour in exchange for food, fuel and clothing.
According to the Torquay Herald Express, Hytche said: “Since the workhouses have been closed down, what has been put in their place? As far as I can see, nothing has been.”
Lib Dem councillor Mark Pountney said “People’s jaws hit the ground when he made the comment. At best it was a poorly chosen remark that could be seen as offensive to other people. It lacks a complete understanding of the problems people face and shows an element of Victorian thinking.”
With the rage than ensued, Hytche defended his comments by saying “It is absurd to suggest I was advocating bringing back the workhouses and not for one minute am I suggesting that. My words have been taken out of context.
“The remark was meant to say people were looked after by their communities better back then. Local areas used to look after their own, but now, if you put people into the community to be looked after, you have to take what the community gives back, which is not always a lot. People nowadays can be treated worse as the system cannot cope with everyone.”
Well Hytche, who is to blame for that? The government – your mates in parliament.
Labour Cllr Darren Cowell, who was not at the meeting, said he was shocked when he heard that ‘crass comments’ about workhouses had been made in a council meeting in modern Britain.
“His comments are almost guilt-by-association and are out of touch. If he does feel like this and that there is a failure in the community then there needs to be priority given to services and support in the community,” he said.
Hytche has claimed his comments were about trying to raise awareness of the fact that councils don’t have the funds to provide all the services that are required and that work needs to be done to find out why so many people who are mentally ill need help.
However, Cllr Cowell rejected this by stating: “It is all very well Cllr Hytche criticising the lack of support in the community and the services are under threat but I don’t see him lobbying to keep these services.”
It is an absolute disgrace that anyone should make any reference to ‘workhouses’ in our modern society. Along with asylums, they are long-gone and should remain that way.
Communities looking after their own has (and never has had) anything to do with workhouses, which were put in place when there was no other option available for the poor and vulnerable. So whichever way Hytche tries to spin his comments they don’t detract from the fact that he is part of what is wrong with the system.
Typical of the group psychopathy that appears to run through the current government.
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