Decision was flawed, says council watchdog

Council bosses have been called on to reconsider a decision to stop funding an audio book service for blind and visually impaired people.

It comes after an investigation by a government watchdog into a series of complaints by people who had been using the Talking Books service, provided by Suffolk County Council.

The Royal National Institute of Blind People (RNIB) complained on behalf of seven blind or visually impaired adults about the council’s decision to stop funding the £82 annual subscription.

However, the local government ombudsman found there were flaws in the way the council carried out the cancellation.

Dr Jane Martin concluded that the authority had not properly considered the impact on those affected and had failed to carry out a proper consultation.

In her report, Dr Martin said: “They will rightly feel aggrieved that they have lost out on an opportunity to influence a decision affecting them and to have a say in what and how services are provided to them.”

As a result, the county council has provided extra training to staff on disability and is in the process of reviewing its original decision to stop funding.