Plans to axe site wardens would be ‘devastating’

Residents from Hartington Gardens and Milton Court gather to protest at the proposed withdrawal of wardens.
Residents from Hartington Gardens and Milton Court gather to protest at the proposed withdrawal of wardens.

A Buxton pensioner is urging councillors to vote against proposals to axe wardens from sheltered housing amid concerns it would leave the most vulnerable residents “alone, unsafe, and terrified”.

Paul Booth, 64, of Milton Court, believes Derbyshire County Council’s plan to axe wardens from sheltered accommodation across the county would be “devastating” for elderly and disabled people.

If approved, the cost-cutting measure would mean residents in ‘category two’ sheltered accommodation would also lose their emergency alarms – which provide a vital form of contact in case of a fall or other 
complication.

Mr Booth said: “In this complex we’ve got many elderly, disabled and infirm people.

“They are terrified at the prospect of losing these services because they would feel alone and unsafe.

“The warden does a great job. He makes sure we’re okay, reminds people about doctors appointments, and fixes odd things.

“As for the alarm, having it gives residents a sense of security. Without it they feel alone and unsafe.”

The cuts – which if voted through would take effect in Spring 2015 – have been proposed after the council was ordered to slash £157m from its spending budget by central Government.

A spokeswoman for the authority confirmed that, if the cuts were introduced across the county, it would save the council £788,395.

Former firefighter Mr Booth said: “I just worry that, as it’s a Labour council, they will vote this through and say ‘look what the evil Tory Government has made us do’.

“But residents’ lives really are on the line here.

“This is not the time for party political plays – this is vulnerable people’s security and safety at stake.”

Category two accommodation is sheltered housing with an on-site warden during some or all of the 
day.

Residents receive regular contact from the wardens to support them in remaining as independent as possible.

Milton Court shares a provision with Hartington Gardens and this consists of one resident warden and one who is available every morning.

The authority said “no decisions will be made about this service until we have gathered in all the views and considered them”.

The closing date of the consultation is November 18 and a decision is likely to be made in 
February 2015.