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Sunday, 23 November 2014

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Criticism as Cumbrian sheltered housing scheme to be shut

A SHELTERED housing scheme of bedsits for mainly elderly people in Longtown is to be closed down.

Bosses from the social landlord Riverside say that the facility in the Ladyseat area is only half full, and has not been covering its costs. They told the 12 residents who will have to move out at a meeting yesterday.

One of the Carlisle city councillors who represents the area has accused Riverside of being “dictatorial” in its handling of the issue.

But Riverside’s assistant director of operations, Paul Taylor, defended the decision, saying: “There is little demand in Longtown for the sheltered bedsit accommodation at Ladyseat. Less than half of the building is currently occupied and for the past year Riverside has been losing rental income and subsidising the running costs of the building.

“To refurbish the building, to bring the accommodation up to standard, would need considerable investment and there is no funding available.”

He said that Riverside’s main concern was the welfare of the tenants and that the association was fully committed to helping them with financial support, advice, and help with removal costs, including “priority choice of suitable alternative accommodation.” Mr Taylor added: “We are hoping to rehouse all residents by the end of March. At that point we will consider options for the site in consultation with the local community.”

A spokeswoman pointed out that Riverside had subsidised the scheme to the tune of £86,000 a year. Residents have been aware that the scheme’s future was in doubt. It would cost £900,000 to bring the bedsits up to scratch, she said.

But Councillor Ray Bloxham, who represents the area on Carlisle City Council, said he was disappointed with Riverside’s announcement.

He said: “You’d have thought that they’d get the local community and community leaders together to explain their actions.

“It’s been a little bit dictatorial.

“The people living there are elderly, mostly 70 plus in age, and pretty well all of them will originate from Longtown.”

A spokeswoman for Arthuret parish council said councillors were unaware of Riverside’s decision to close the scheme. The bedsits are likely to be demolished when empty and Riverside does have alterative accommodation in Longtown.

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