RESIDENTS at a sheltered housing estate in Basingstoke have hit out at Hampshire County Council after it announced plans to cut funding for emergency alarm systems.
The council is planning to cut services that are provided under its Supporting People programme in a bid to make £7.66million of savings by 2016.
The Supporting People programme is a Government-funded scheme that enables vulnerable residents, including the elderly and those with disabilities, to get housing-related support to live independently.
As part of the proposals being considered by Councillor Liz Fairhurst, executive member for adult social care and public health, the county plans to cut funding to emergency pull cord alarm systems in sheltered housing schemes around the borough by the end of September.
But residents at John Eddie Court, in St Michael’s Road, South Ham, have criticised the proposal.
The alarms, which are connected to a control centre in Newbury, allow elderly residents to signal if they need help, and then a warden or care worker can be sent to help them.
If plans are approved, residents in the greatest need could be given the option of the alternative Telecare system – a button alarm worn as a necklace or wristband – and other residents could be given the option of paying for the service.
Grandfather-of-six Brian Hurford, 67, told The Gazette: “If they (the county) keep cutting, what have we got left?
“I feel safer in knowing I have got the alarm, and that is what has made us all disgusted. We have got no protection, no one to call and all we will have are relatives to call – and some people haven’t got any relatives.”
Seventy-three-year-old Delphine Pay has gathered 100 signatures on a petition protesting about the planned cuts, and this will be handed to the county council.
She added: “We feel safer with the alarms and when a manager is here.”
But Cllr Fairhurst said the county “remains fully committed” to supporting vulnerable residents. She added: “We are in discussions with Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council as well as the other 10 district councils, support providers and other stakeholders about how services in Basingstoke and the rest of the county could be delivered in the future.”
In addition to the cuts proposed for the emergency alarm systems, contracts for housing projects for homeless people in the borough are to be extended until 2015, but will be subject to review.
The projects include the Joshua Tree Centre, in Worting Road, and Sandringham Court, in Paddock Road, South Ham.
A decision on the proposals will be made by Cllr Fairhurst on July 30.