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Monday, 21 April 2014

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Carlisle elderly told to pay for warden service

Elderly and vulnerable people across Carlisle face being charged if they want to keep a warden service at their sheltered accommodation.

Carlisle residents photo
Residents of Freshfield Court, Carlisle, say lives could be put at risk

Residents claim that lives could be put at risk as a result. An elderly resident recently got into difficulty after a fall and was not found for at least a day because there was no warden on site.

Following increased Government cuts in March 2012 Cumbria County Council withdrew its Supporting People Grant. Up until earlier this month housing association Riverside had managed to subsidise the service for all tenants.

But now they are being asked to pay around £2 each week to fund part-time warden coverage or about £8 per week for full-time.

Residents at Freshfield Court, one of the affected developments in Botcherby Avenue, held a meeting with Riverside earlier this week to raise their concerns.

Paul Johnston, a 66-year-old who has lived there for more than five years, said that a warden was needed on site, at least part-time, because there were health and safety issues.

He said: “One situation, which could have been fatal, was when an elderly person was in difficulty and wasn’t found until one day afterwards because of the warden not being on site.”

Mr Johnston said that there were also problems with antisocial behaviour, illegal drug use, as well as attempted break-ins at residents’ flats.”

Yesterday residents were reassured that they would get some answers at a further meeting next week.

Councillor Robert Betton, who represents Carlisle City Council’s Botcherby ward, said he was concerned by the new charges.

Paul Taylor, Riverside’s assistant director of operations, said that the warden service had been fully subsidised until this month after the withdrawal of the Supporting People Grant.

He said: “We commenced a consultation process with all tenants of Riverside sheltered housing schemes regarding the future of this service in January 2013.

“The options presented included a full warden service, which included some support and management of the building, or a reduced service with a focus on health and safety.

“Following the consultation, tenants in two out of the three schemes voted in favour of the more extensive service. The tenants of Freshfield Court, however, voted overwhelmingly for the reduced service.

“We were unaware until today that some of the tenants of Freshfield Court are now proposing that they wish to introduce a more extensive service.

“This would involve tenants covering the cost of this service. We would be happy to offer the option of a further full one-to-one consultation with all residents, therefore this will be arranged immediately.”

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