Council wavers on warden cuts - but consultation goes ahead despite public backlash

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News

A councillor under scrutiny for proposing to remove wardens from sheltered housing has admitted he “may have made a mistake”.

Nigel Long faced fierce criticism from passionate protesters who gathered inside the council chamber tonight.

It follows his suggestion to take away on-site wardens from 674 elderly residents in MK.

The move will save £560,000 from next year’s council budget.

Responding to powerful speeches from residents and wardens in the chamber tonight, Mr Long said: “I may well have made a mistake by taking this proposal forward.

“The speeches have been powerful and eloquent, with many making a strong case.

“We recognise the passion and we are going to use consultation to look at options.

“If we find the resources to deal with sheltered housing, we will have to find savings elsewhere, but we will consult on this.”

In a last-minute amendment to the budget papers, Mr Long asked to look for an alternate way to provide an independent living service and new funding arrangements following “extensive service user engagement”.

He will now engage with sheltered housing residents during consultation to look at other viable options.

Speaking to the Citizen, Mr Long said: “We have recognised that against a massive backdrop of Tory government cuts we have got to make some changes, but we have listened to the residents and realise we need to do something different with sheltered housing.

“We need to engage more closely and find better funding for the long-term.”

The budget papers were approved for consultation.

It will now open to public consultation from December 15 until January 20.

If the plans are passed by full council, the wardens will be scrapped by April 2016.