‘If I lose my warden, I might as well curl up and die’: Pensioners protest against council cuts

News. Photo: Shutterstock
News. Photo: Shutterstock

Pensioners protested against plans to rid sheltered housing of wardens as the council delivered its budget plans tonight.

Councillors were jeered as they discussed how they will slash £22million from next year’s budget.

It follows letters sent out to elderly people last week warning of proposals to cut on-site wardens to save £560,000.

Emotional residents shouted “shame on you” from the public gallery as they told how the “heartless” plans will affect them.

In a speech, Councillor Nigel Long, cabinet member of adult social care, joked: “I am not sure I am going to get out of the building alive tonight.”

One resident told the council: “My warden is my lifeline. If I don’t have a warden I might as well curl up lie down and die. Do you want that on your conscious?”

Another said: “You have caused so much unhappiness and insecurity.

“You are attacking the people who can’t fight for themselves. You are causing the old, infirm, needy and disabled a huge amount of anxiety and I don’t know how you sleep at night.”

While one resident added: “If we lose wardens, the majority of people will feel like they have lost an arm because they rely on this one person who helps the council in so many ways.

“It is disgraceful that you are taking that away from them.”

Council leader Pete Marland said he would not “cheerlead” the plans, but described it as a “solid budget”.

He replied: “I don’t sleep at night because I am the one who has to sit in this chair and be responsible for this.

“So please don’t ever ask me how I sleep at night because I don’t. I lie awake and think of everybody who will be affected by these cuts.”

Out of 780 tenancies, only 106 of the most vulnerable people will continue to receive support as part of their care package if the controversial plans go ahead.

Mr Long said: ”We are trying to deal with massive pressures on adult social care.

“We want to empower people to live the fullest lives possible.

“We need to go out to sheltered housing and speak to the community and make sure we have a dialogue with them to work out how we can fund things differently.”

The Labour cabinet will vote on the proposals tonight.

If approved, it will be 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.