Housing scheme concerns

ELDERLY people at a sheltered housing scheme say they have been ‘abandoned’ by cuts to the service.

Residents at Towlers Court and Manor House Close, in Brandon, believe that changes made by Flagship Housing have drastically reduced the level of service they are receiving.

Flagship halved staff numbers as part of its 1Future restructure in May. The cuts included the relocation of Claire Darkins, who had served as warden at Manor House Close for two years.

Annette Meadows, a resident at Manor House Close, believes the changes have affected residents’ confidence.

“Before you used to feel safe and when you are elderly, feeling safe is very important.

“When we knew the warden was nearby and that you could talk to them it was reassuring but now you are left more or less abandoned,” she said.

Residents have now turned to Forest Heath District Council for help.

Along with Cllr Bill Bishop and a resident of Towlers Court, Mrs Meadows spoke to councillors at a meeting of the council’s overview and scrutiny committee on October 6.

She told the meeting that promises made to residents by Flagship Housing had not been kept.

The meeting heard that gardening, window cleaning, satellite TV services and external cleaning of the site had all stopped since May – despite residents still paying for them.

Following the meeting, Forest Heath District Council resolved to look into the matter, and will visit sheltered housing providers in the area. A report is expected back to council by December 10.

Flagship responded by saying wardens were now only responsible for offering support to customers.

Sally Hanlin, head of care and support, said: “All former tenancy related duties are now carried out by a dedicated community manager. This means that wardens now have the capacity to visit customers at three schemes Monday to Friday.

“We believe that by combining the expertise of the housing management team with the sheltered team, we are now delivering a more effective service to our customers within sheltered housing.”

Mrs Meadows said that residents were now set to meet with management from Flagship next month to discuss the situation.

Flagship’s changes came as a result of Suffolk County Council’s slashing its funding by nearly 50 per cent. Full-time wardens were reduced from 32 to 16.