‘We’ll fight on over ax­ing of alarm ser­vice’

Birmingham Post - - NEWS -

DE­TER­MINED cam­paign­ers have vowed to con­tinue their fight to stop coun­cil fund­ing cuts to Wal­sall’s com­mu­nity alarm ser­vice, de­spite a de­ci­sion to scrap it.

Carer and mum-of-two Amy Jarvis said she was frus­trated by Wal­sall Coun­cil’s cabi­net de­ci­sion to press ahead with ax­ing the £1.29 mil­lion fund­ing it cur­rently pro­vides for the scheme in the face of bud­get pres­sures.

But she added she would plough on with her planned protest ahead of a de­bate at a full coun­cil meet­ing on Jan­uary 7.

A pe­ti­tion she raised – one of two fight­ing the de­ci­sion – has al­ready at­tracted more than 2,000 sig­na­tures.

Last week, cabi­net chiefs rub­ber-stamped the con­tro­ver­sial pro­posal and said the ser­vice would be phased out be­tween Jan­uary and March.

Coun­cil leader Mike Bird said the au­thor­ity no longer had the money to fund the non-statu­tory ini­tia­tive.

Mrs Jarvis, whose hus­band David has mul­ti­ple scle­ro­sis, said: “I feel ex­tremely frus­trated that this is hap­pen­ing.

“I’m not ig­no­rant to cuts and fi­nan­cial pres­sures but I re­ally don’t be­lieve they should be com­ing out of so­cial care bud­gets.

“I re­ally be­lieve there has been no con­sid­er­a­tion to the hu­man side of this and the im­pact this will have on vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple’s lives. This has been for­got­ten.

“Cut­ting fund­ing for the alarms will add pres­sure to the over­bur­dened adult so­cial care sys­tem.

“And ex­pect­ing peo­ple to pay around £14-per-week to carry on the ser­vice with a pri­vate provider is un­af­ford­able. Some of the most vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple will have to choose be­tween this vi­tal ser­vice or heat­ing their homes.

“I’m sick of hear­ing how they are a fi­nan­cial bur­den. They are peo­ple with fam­i­lies who are en­ti­tled to a de­cent qual­ity of life.

“But I’m very de­ter­mined. The fight will go on and I will con­tinue with the protest and to have the de­bate in the full coun­cil meet­ing.

“I un­der­stand coun­cil can’t over­turn cabi­net’s de­ci­sion but I want them to be held ac­count­able for it and look ser­vice users and their fam­i­lies in the eye and ex­plain why this is hap­pen­ing.”

Labour’s Brown­hills can­di­date David Mor­gan, who has sup­ported Mrs Jarvis’ cam­paign, added: “Over 7,000 Wal­sall res­i­dents will be af­fected by this, and many can’t af­ford the costs of a pri­vately run ser­vice. The peo­ple de­serve bet­ter.”

Wal­sall is one of the last au­thor­i­ties in the West Mid­lands to have con­tin­ued fund­ing the ser­vice.

As well as bud­get pres­sures, the coun­cil has also raised con­cerns about the “dan­ger­ous” staffing lev­els for the 24/7 ser­vice with bosses re­ly­ing on good­will to cover sick­ness and hol­i­day ab­sences.

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