I APPLAUD Ivor Skyrme’s courage in speaking out about private care agencies and their cosy relationships with Herefordshire Council (Letters, December 28) as I know of vulnerable people afraid to speak out for fear of victimisation by the council and/or the agency.

At various times I have experienced all the problems he describes and others in addition.

On one occasion the Care Quality Commission asked me if I would be willing to give evidence at a meeting to investigate a safeguarding complaint against a local care agency.

With some trepidation I agreed.

Unfortunately, the procedure was for the local council to conduct the meeting. When we all arrived it appeared that the council staff and the care agency representatives were on friendly terms – chatting and calling each other by Christian names. I was outnumbered by the agency representatives.

On a number of occasions I was interrupted by the agency while I was speaking and the council staff did not object or do anything to prevent this.

I cannot say more because in order to be at the meeting and give my evidence I had to agree that I would not disclose what had been said.

When the meeting ended agency and council staff left the room together – laughing and chatting.

It came as no surprise to me that no further action was taken. Even the council’s subsequent notes were not accurate.

In my opinion such complaints about a care agency should not be investigated by its own local authority.

They should be investigated by someone completely independent.

I was glad to read, in the same edition, Newsquest’s advertisement for Local Democracy Reporters to scrutinise local authorities and identify stories which need to be brought to the public’s attention.

Something needs to be done.