"Forgotten" Cradley Heath pensioners' anger at losing wardens

Compton Grange residents (from left) Brian Plant (74), Thelma Smith (88), June McManus(76), Dorothy Homer (82), David Harley (83), Ann Hackett (73), Minnie Tromans (94) and William Chance (71). (Buy photo 111443M)

Warden-uncontrolled Compton Grange sheltered housing. (Buy photo 111445M )

First published in Local

FRAIL pensioners say they have been “abandoned” following the axing of vital warden services at their sheltered housing in Cradley Heath.

The two wardens who look after the elderly and disabled residents of Compton Grange are the latest casualties of savage frontline cuts by cash-starved Sandwell Council.

The two women will leave at the end of the month, leaving around 40 residents with no on-site help.

They are being replaced by a “virtual visiting system” - a communal TV with a remote control which allows residents to chat to staff if they need to.

But Brian Plant, aged 74, and David Harley, aged 83 tomorrow, (Friday) fear their fellow residents, aged up to 94, are too old to use the new technology.

“We feel let down and abandoned - I think it’s disgusting,” said Mr Harley.

Thelma Smith, aged 88, said the wardens used to be full time and had already been cut to two hours, three days a week.

Residents believe they will suffer without the wardens reminding them to take medications and carrying out small, but important tasks, like checking smoke alarms and changing light bulbs.

With a lift that has broken nine times in 10 days, some disabled residents are scared to use it on their own, so the new facility is not accessible to many on the first floor.

Cradley Heath councillor Julie Webb described them as a community “forgotten” by council decision-makers, but she blamed the redundancies on drastic Government cuts to town hall budgets.

She said: “No technology can replace the friendly touch – it is essential the wardens are kept in work – the residents rely on them.”

Cllr Webb and fellow councillors Ann Shackleton and John Tipper are pressurising the council to release £500,000 earmarked a year ago for fire prevention work at the Whitehall Road flats.

The Labour councillor added: “The residents do like their flats, it’s a lovely little community and they deserve some comforts in their later life.

“We can’t save the wardens – that’s a done deal because of the budget cuts but I will fight to the last to get the promised investment in Compton Grange.”

Councillor Yvonne Davies, cabinet member for adult social care, said: "The safety of residents continues to be our priority and we have installed new technology backed up with a floating support service.”

Residents will retain access to the pull-chord and pendant 24-hour emergency community alarm system

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