Angus councillors are ‘‘listening’’ to what sheltered housing residents and their families have said about the services they receive.
At a full Angus Council meeting in Forfar last Thursday (December 10) councillors heard a motion to tell tenants they “recognise the importance of the sheltered housing provisions” and that their lounges, guest rooms and laundry services will be retained.
This followed consultation between the authority and the residents as the council seeks to introduce the Scottish Government Self Directed Support (SDS) initiative.
Tenants have expressed fears that their tenancy support officers (TSOs), more commonly known as wardens, will be axed.
However, no decision on whether TSOs will be retained is to be made until a report on the findings of the consultation comes before the Communities and Social Work and Health Committee in January.
A number of sheltered housing residents protested outside Town and County Hall last week to have their views heard.
Inside, the full council heard a deputation from two tenants, Beatrice Gerrard from Andy Stewart Court in Arbroath, and Tom Fowler from Jubilee Court in Letham.
Mrs Gerrard said she moved into sheltered housing after being troubled by antisocial behaviour at her previous home.
She added: “Wardens play a big part in our lives. They have to make sure everyone is up in the morning, helping vulnerable people to fill in forms and help with health issues and safety, which is a big part of sheltered housing.”
Mr Fowler said: “I am fortunate that my wife takes care of my every need but there are other people who have been left on their own and some of them are totally housebound.
“A TSO is a caring person who does take a great interest in the tenants, who becomes certainly a friend of most of us, a desperately needed confidant of people who are housebound. The service is invaluable.
“I understand that you are constricted by the budget set on you by the Edinburgh parliament.
“Please, I implore all of you to carry out the duty for which you are elected, which is our care. Please retain our TSOs.”
Councillor Ewan Smith asked Mr Fowler and Mrs Gerrard if TSOs were to be replaced by caretakers what difference that would make.
Mr Fowler said: “It would mean that everyone would have their own preference of what care they got, so we would have an endless amount of keys and entries.
“It would be like Piccadilly Circus - people coming and going at all hours of the day and night.”
The motion was brought to the table by Councillor Bob Myles, who said: “We obviously saw the depth of feeling from people prepared to stand outside in very inclement weather to make their voices heard. We can’t ignore that voice.
“These tenants need reassurance now before Christmas and before the next Communities and Social Work and Health Committee meeting in the New Year.
“The TSOs do an excellent job. If we are as directed by the Scottish Government to look at replacing them or doing away with them all together, who replaces the excellent job they do and who covers the cost?
“The tenants need this person in place to be the first point of contact be it for something minor or major.”
The motion was seconded by Councillor David Fairweather.
Councillor Glennis Middleton said: “I don’t think there is anybody in here who doesn’t support the sheltered housing tenants and who doesn’t recognise that they do have anxieties.
“When we do get the report in January we will take account of all of them.”
Councillor David May: “I think one point we have to make clear is that no decision has been made about any of these things. There seems to be an impression that the council has made a decision or has a hidden agenda. As far as I am concerned, there is no hidden agenda. A decision will be made in the New Year.”
Cllr May said he believed SDS was “flawed” and could have “adverse implications” for groups such as sheltered housing tenants.
He added he felt the council had to find a way of retaining the wardens as they had a “significant” role.
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