Tuesday, 31 March 2015

Councils drop warden case appeals

Two councils which acted unlawfully in the way they drew up plans for the removal of live-in sheltered housing wardens have decided not to appeal.

Barnet and Portsmouth councils had been considering appealing the December judicial review ruling. Portsmouth had leave to apply for an appeal and Barnet was deciding whether to apply for permission. But now both councils have decided not go ahead.

Barnet council’s leader Lynne Hillan said it would ‘not be appropriate to appeal’. She said the council had been found to be remiss on ‘a legal point, though not on policy itself’. She said she would recommend to the council’s cabinet it should reinstate resident wardens in the 2010/11 council budget and ‘reconsider the way forward’.

She added: ‘Any future decision will take into account the need to target taxpayers’ financial support to those older people whose needs are greatest as well as ensuring that our service is delivered in the most effective way.’

Portsmouth council said it had decided not to appeal because the case might not be heard for months yet staff and residents needed certainty.

David Mearns, assistant housing manager at Portsmouth council, said the council would continue with a temporary sleep-in wardens service because all residents and members of the council had said they would be willing to pay collectively for the wardens at the seven affected schemes.

‘We will now be designing a new service, in close consultation with residents, which will aim to meet all residents’ needs throughout the night, not just the average three requests (per night) across the seven schemes that sleep-in staff will deal with,’ he said.

‘This is likely to be based on having at least one member of staff in each scheme, which will be balanced against the costs to residents. Once complete, this proposal will be reported to the housing executive.’

Before the judicial review in December last year, Barnet had planned to replace a resident warden service with floating support and alarms in several sheltered housing schemes.

Portsmouth had replaced the resident warden services with staff who visit the schemes at night to check on residents plus daytime wardens at each scheme.

The cases were the first in a series of judicial reviews being brought by solicitor Yvonne Hossack on behalf of residents in several sheltered housing schemes.

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