Cradley Heath pensioners left in the cold

First published in News

ELDERLEY residents of a sheltered housing complex in Cradley, whose warden service has been axed, were left without heat for five hours when a power cut switched the boiler off.

Pensioner Brian Plant said they feared such problems would become more regular after Sandwell Council made the wardens redundant at the end of March.

The 74-year-old, who was concerned about his more elderly and frail neighbours aged up to 94, reported the defect in the morning.

When there had been no action by 1pm he went to the Blackheath housing office to complain in person, only to be told it had not been logged on the system.

Mr Plant said: “This would not have happened if the warden had been there. The boiler switched off automatically when there was a brief power cut and it just needed switching on again.”

The two wardens have lost their jobs as part of Sandwell Council’s cost-cutting measures and have been replaced by a virtual visiting system – a communal TV screen with a remote control which allows residents to chat to staff if they need to.

But they are reluctant to use the new system, lacking the confidence in using the technology and missing the face-to-face interaction.

Cradley Heath councillor Julie Webb said as a compromise they could write concerns down in a book – or ring her.

She added that £500,000 of investment earmarked last year for fire prevention work at the Whitehall Road complex was finally due to be released this month.

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