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