Tuesday, 12 April 2011
Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford has met with concerned residents of Walker Court sheltered housing complex in Aberchirder to discuss Aberdeenshire Council’s plans to cut warden cover at each complex in favour of itinerant teams of wardens providing part-time cover.
The MP’s visit was sought after enquiries which she made following a recent fire at the complex revealed a shocking lack of contingency planning for such an emergency. Dr. Whiteford was able to reassure the tenants that these shortcomings had now been addressed by Aberdeenshire Council and Grampian Fire & Rescue Service - but the tenants remain worried that Aberdeenshire Council’s plans to press ahead with reductions in warden cover will place them at additional risk during emergencies.
Of perhaps even greater concern to the tenants, however, was the loss of the day-to-day services and security provided by having full-time wardens on site.
Commenting after the meeting, Dr. Whiteford said:
“Residents and their relatives are making their feelings plain, and the Council needs to listen. I don't think the informal role that wardens play in our sheltered housing complexes has been fully appreciated by those managing the services.
“I also doubt the cost savings to be gained. Wardens will end up spending their time in cars, traveling from complex to complex at great expense, instead of spending time 'on the job'. Given our experiences over the past couple of winters when villages like Aberchirder have been badly affected by prolonged periods of adverse weather, it is hard to see how this scheme will work in practice. We know that last winter there were occasions when wardens had to stand-in to help residents when care workers could not reach their clients.”
The Banff & Buchan MP repeated her pledge to urge Aberdeenshire Council to reconsider its position as a matter of urgency.