Pensioners protest at loss of live-in wardens
‘WOULD YOU TREAT YOUR MOTHER LIKE THIS?’ HUNDREDS MARCH THROUGH STREETS
PENSIONERS bearing placards and carrying a petition signed by more than 400 Ashford residents marched on Downing Street demanding the return of permanent residential wardens.
Sheltered housing residents bore placards with slogans such as ‘Would you treat your mother like this?’ and ‘We can’t all be here today, but we can all vote’.
More than 70 people from Ashford joined the national march on December 7 from Trafalgar Square to Downing Street led by a lone piper.
Also speaking at the event was Chris Took, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Ashford, who has been leading the campaign to ensure that this issue is included in his party’s national manifesto.
Ashford council says it will not be returning permanent wardens and will continue to use 12 “floating wardens” for its 452 sheltered dwellings within 13 residential schemes.
Housing improvement manager Richard Robinson said the authority provides a 24-hour service of care seven days a week.
He said: “We have dramatically improved the times when our staff are available, ready and willing to help sheltered tenants.
“The old system had issues in that it did not adequately meet the needs of all tenants, was not a robust 24-hour service.
“Our service is now of a much higher, consistent standard than it ever was before.”
Meanwhile the council has challenged a resident over claims she made about CCTV staff on social networking site Facebook.
Faversham Road resident Kelly-Marie Blundell, 29, wants permanent wardens returned to sheltered housing and has claimed CCTV staff, who monitor sheltered accommodation residents, cannot cope.
But the authority felt she overstepped the mark when she complained that CCTV staff are unable to deal with general antisocial behaviour as well as the welfare of elderly residents.
The former Highworth pupil and Kennington ward councillor hopeful for the Liberal Democrats said: “Not only is there only one warden on duty, but also that staff within the council have to prioritise between anti-social behaviour and crime as well as with the welfare of elderly residents.
“This is a despicable state of affairs and quite simply states that the borough council feels it has no responsibility to the elderly who are frail and infirm.
“Family members and residents in accommodation have reported receiving telephone calls from lifeline telling them to tend to their relatives rather than calling the warden.”
Ashford council’s housing improvement manager Richard Robinson said the authority would welcome a visit from Miss Blundell.
Mr Robinson said: “She can meet some of the residents and staff and see for herself just what goes on and how well the system works.
“Whilst we normally have two staff on night duty though on occasion, due to staffing issues, there has been just one person on duty.
“However this is still an improvement in service level compared to when we had resident staff, and this is also the quietest period of the day when staff are there to provide specific support.
“It is worth pointing out that housing scheme managers provide support and are there to assist people in maintaining their independence – they are not, nor have they ever been, a blue light emergency service.”
Pensioners march on Downing Street over the scrapping of permanent wardens in sheltered housing accommodation