Fight to save elderly sheltered homes

PUBLISHED: 09:51 21 December 2006 | UPDATED: 14:55 12 May 2010

Cllr Nigel Cathcart

Cllr Nigel Cathcart

A COUNCILLOR is fighting to keep a high quality and effective sheltered housing scheme for residents in South Cambridge-shire. Following a review of the scheme and warden services by the Housing for Older Persons Advisory Group, Cllr Nigel Cathcart, who i

A COUNCILLOR is fighting to keep a high quality and effective sheltered housing scheme for residents in South Cambridge-shire.

Following a review of the scheme and warden services by the Housing for Older Persons Advisory Group, Cllr Nigel Cathcart, who is a former chairman of the group, says it came to the conclusion that the schemes in Bassingbourn, Melbourn and Orwell are an important provision.

A mobile service has also been considered, but Cllr Cathcart said the idea has been rejected because it would be too "unsettling" for residents.

He said: "It's preferable that wardens should either be resident in or close to the schemes they looked after.

"In the past the council has provided warden houses in the scheme and I consider this to be a preferable option to the wardens living a long way from the schemes.

"The warden schemes of south Cambridgeshire have always been seen as the jewel in the crown' of the housing service.

"They are fully staffed and funded and popular with residents, and a service in which all involved could take a legitimate pride and it is important that this continues as the residents of our schemes are entitled to many years of happy retirement and the security of knowing their interests will be looked after."

Changes are currently being made to the schemes to enable elderly people to have extra support, but remain independent.

Cllr Cathcart said: "I shall do my best to try and ensure that the wardens schemes are retained as close as possible to their original form and that the idea of 'shelter' is fully retained and that we do not have a fully mobile service which does not meet the needs of residents."

Following the review in 2005-06, South Cambridgeshire District Council has already implemented a number of changes which included moving wardens off-site.

A district council spokesman said: "The decision to move away from sheltered housing officers living on site was given full consideration and was informed both by what residents told us was important, and by financial pressures upon the service.

"The council is negotiating with sheltered housing officers who are still living on site to help them find alternative accommodation through the council's lettings policy.

"The council needs to make the best use of its limited supply of housing, and larger properties must be allocated to larger households.

"Where sheltered housing officers move off-site, the council's housing staff will carefully consider whom the house is offered to.

"Previous experience shows that it is possible to use these homes to meet family housing needs without causing problems to neighbouring sheltered housing residents.

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