Outrage at removal of housing wardens

By James Martin, June 11, 2009

Jewish residents in sheltered housing schemes in Barnet are outraged at the rubber-stamping of plans to drastically cut the number of on-site wardens.

On Monday, Barnet Council cabinet members voted unanimously for annual “efficiency savings” of £400,000. The money for wardens is no longer ring-fenced through the government-funded Supporting People programme.

As well as a demonstration outside, councillors faced angry questions from the public at the start of the meeting.

Jewish residents and their relatives have argued that the loss of wardens would raise welfare and security issues.

Rosalyn Sidney, whose mother lives in Harmony Close, run by the Jewish Community Housing Association, warned that “people would be forced into care homes. On one occasion my mother was unable to get to an emergency alarm because she had fallen ill on the floor. Without the help of a warden who was checking up on her, she might not be here today.”

Susan Rosenthal, an epileptic who has lived in Jewish sheltered housing for seven years, said: “I’m lucky I’ve got my husband to support me.” But in an emergency, “I would be relying on being able to press the alarm”.

JCHA chief executive Sara Clarke will meet council chiefs today to learn how the policy will be implemented. The association has 205 residents in seven homes in Barnet and Ms Clarke said the council was well aware of support needs.

Defending the cutback, council leader Mike Freer spoke of plans for teams of floating wardens to “provide help to the sheltered housing residents”.

Last updated: 5:07pm, June 11 2009