Pen­sion­ers protest at loss of live-in war­dens


Kentish Express Ashford & District - - Front Page - by Thom Mor­ris tmor­ris@thek­m­

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

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