Monday 1 February 2010

Sheltered Housing update : Barnet Council Cabinet review

Barnet Council is discussing the High Court decision to overturn its heartless policy of abolishing sheltered housing wardens on Wednesday 3rd Feb (CLICK HERE for the full report). There are a couple of rather interesting snippets
Now given that many residents of Sheltered Housing are disabled (that is why you need wardens), are you as shocked as I was that "due regard" hadn't been given to the "disability discrimination act 1995". How did the conversation go? Did Lynne Hillan say "As we are getting rid of wardens who look after the disabled, it is unlikely that the disability act applies to us". It isn't that hard to figure out that they have to follow the law, is it?

The next section which caught my eye was this one :-
The first bullet point is the one which shocks me most. This clearly states that the Council has no training program at present to train their staff to do "equality impact assessments". If like me you've followed this whole sorry saga from day one, it now becomes clear how all this mess happened. It happened because the council hasn't got a clue what it's doing and no one has been properly trained.

Consider this. Barnet Council spent £23,000 on fighting a high court case, when they hadn't bothered to train their staff to do the job. They also launched a case against Yvonne Hossacks, the lawyer representing the tenants. The cost of this hasn't been disclosed. In other words tens of thousands of pounds have been spent on cases, which were doomed to fail.

At the cabinet meeting where Barnet Council approved the policy, I asked whether a risk assessment had been performed on the impact of the decision. The then Tory Council Leader said "Yes". I asked a follow up question "How long is this". He replied "3 paragraphs". That was for every site, every scenario and every tenant. It was clear to me that they didn't know what they were doing. As the Leader gave his response, there was hysterical laughter from the public gallery. The cabinet, to a man, looked horrified.

Council Leader Lynne Hillan was the architect of this policy. How can she justify trying to implement sucha  change, without even having properly trained staff. It is clear from reading these papers that the Council plan to abolish the Wardens just as soon as they can. Lets just review the story so far

Those who think it's a good idea :-

The 33 Conservative Councillors who voted for the policy, led by Lynne Hillan and Andrew Harper
The Lawyers who have taken Barnets cash to fight hopeless cases

Those who think it's a bad :-
The residents of Sheltere Housing who overwhelmingly opposed the plans in the consultation document (over 85%)
All of the Labour and Lib-Dem councillors on Barnet Council
All of the groups representing the Elderly and disabled in Barnet
The High Court
This blog and everyone I've spoken to about the issue (including many elderly staunch Conservatives)

Get yourself up to the Town Hall on Wednesday to oppose this policy.

1 comment:

Don't Call Me Dave said...


You are quite right to highlight the fact that the council didn’t know what it was doing. But it is equally important to remind people that Lynne Hillan still wishes to go ahead with the policy of axing wardens. The council have announced that they will not appeal the High Court decision, but that it is because there is no chance of winning. It is clear from this report that Officers have been instructed to go back to the drawing board and find a way of implementing the cuts which would be lawful.

Most people will see the announcement that the appeal is being dropped as nothing more than a cynical pre-election con trick. Conservative candidates need to be told loud and clear that they risk losing their seats unless they give an unequivocal guarantee to abandon this policy once and for all.

The public should also pay close attention to the party’s election manifesto. If Hillan does not include this policy in the manifesto, then she has no moral authority to try and reintroduce it, should the Conservatives be re-elected in May.