Tuesday, 4 May 2010

Sheltered housing campaigner says don't vote Tory in Barnet

David Young, the Barnet-based organiser of many of the protests against sheltered housing warden cuts, campaigned under the slogan "No wardens, no votes".

He and I and a lot of elderly sheltered housing residents and their supporters have delivered letters to the three main party leaders twice. The response has been feeble, with no one bothering to give a simple answer to a straight question: "Will you commit to take action to stop Councils removing Resident Sheltered Housing Wardens and where the Wardens service has been cut ensure it is reinstated?"

Councils around the country began to raid sheltered housing budgets once the government removed the ring fence from the Supporting People budget. The culprits include Lib Dem and Tory councils. I have not heard yet of a Labour council doing this, but I wouldn't rule it out! In any case, it was the Labour government that has made these cuts possible.

The Labour government's response to the question has come via the Department for Communities and Local Government:
The removal of the ring fence from the Supporting People grant, on 1 April 2009 supports the Government’s clear commitment to provide authorities with greater flexibility over their funding. However, we would expect local authorities to consult on and communicate any changes they were considering making to the support services in their area.
Since no party leader has committed to stopping or reversing the warden cuts, David Young has concluded:
We went to Clegg, Brown and Cameron on our walking sticks, Zimmer frames and wheelchairs, and the doors were slammed in our face. We urge all the righteous to support us by voting against the party in their area whose council has hurt us. We warned you, and we keep our promises. No wardens, no vote!
I happen to know that David Young is not a Labour supporter. (I don't know about the Lib Dems!) But he has concluded that people should not vote for the Conservatives in Barnet.

Let's be clear, only the Labour and Lib Dem groups on Barnet council are committed to defending the resident sheltered housing wardens. Barnet Tories are committed to axing them. If this issue is important to you, weigh it in the balance when you are deciding how to vote on Thursday.

The Barnet Press carries the story in more detail.


Mr Reasonable said...

Sorry Vicki but you are wrong! The Residents' Association of Barnet are committed to saving the sheltered wardens. we have said it repeatedly and it is in all of our literature. In addition we have received an endorsement from the UK Pensioners Strategy Committee who are backing RAB in the local elections. With 11 candidates standing in the local election we could make the difference between saving the sheltered wardens and letting the Tories have their way.

Rog T said...

As far as this Lib Dem candidate is concerned, a vote for a Conservative Candidate in Barnet is a vote to terrorise local pensioners.

I berate myself and Labour and residents candidates for not making this the number 1 issue in the election and Barnet.

We should have had a march through the Borough for ALL candidates who opposed the cuts organised by an independent committee.

The Tories genuinely think they got away with this. If EVERYONE who opposes this policy votes against it in the Council Elections, it is not too late to stop it

Citizen Barnet said...

Yes, I owe you an apology, Johnny - kind of...!

In the original core 'policy' of RAB, opposing warden cuts was there, but that was a draft policy statement. Subsequent policy statements haven't been explicit on it (I can't find the later '6 principles' statement at the moment and the link on the RAB website is not working).

Mention of sheltered housing is tucked away in a blogpost http://rabindependents.blogspot.com/2010/04/rab-canvassing-feedback.html; but I can't find it mentioned at all (apart from an early newspaper report about the February meeting where the draft statement was proposed) on the RAB umbrella website http://barnetrab.giving.officelive.com/default.aspx

In the East Barnet material you've put out it's not prominent. I've looked again now and found one explicit reference on the leaflet you circulated. Of course, that's enough - it's there! And it was stupid of me not to check harder.

But the overall conclusion I draw is that RAB has not conveyed its commitment to defending sheltered housing all that well. If that sounds harsh, it's honest. I didn't try to conceal RAB's policy. It literally was not obvious to me that that was your policy. It's good that it's now clear it is.

I had been too busy today to see the latest press release from David Young but got a phone call about it this afternoon. I'm going to post it as a separate post in its entirety. For the record, David says:

"Don’t waste your vote give it to RAB.

"We warned the Barnet Council cabinet, they ignored us. They should have listened when we told them. No Wardens No Vote!

David Young Chair of the UK Pensioners Strategy Committee said “I’m advising all to vote Labour in the Barnet Local elections to stop the conservatives from running the Council. If you can’t bring yourself to vote Labour then vote R.A.B, the Residents Association of Barnet. At least this way we will have some candidates in the council who will genuinely endeavour to save Resident Sheltered Housing Wardens, and our public services.

RAB are fielding independent candidates at the local election and we are supporting them.”

Well, you've better things to do than read my self-justifying emails. Good luck tomorrow!

Roger has a point about how we collectively have played the wardens issue in the election. We are not such great strategists, it seems! Hard lessons learned. The campaign to save the sheltered housing wardens is renewed today, though! Who knows, the Tories might not win! Here's hoping! And voting!