On Tuesday 9th January, the House of Commons chamber considered the proposal by London & Quadrant Supported Living to close several sheltered accommodation developments acquired from Bexley Council in 1998, four of them in the constituency of Old Bexley & Sidcup MP, Derek Conway and two in the Bexleyheath and Crayford constituency of David Evennett MP.
Mr. Conway asked The Speaker for a rare Adjournment Debate, which was granted, and this enabled local MPs to air their concerns. Mr. Conway invited both David Evennett of Bexleyheath & Crayford and John Austin of Erith & Thamesmead to contribute to his debate. He told the House this issue had, “made him more angry than he could recall and that he was incandescent a the thoughtlessness of L&Q officials”.
Mr. Conway set out his dismay at the L&Q proposals to close 142 units leaving only 62 for upgrading. He attacked the housing association for the, “crass, indeed cruel way they announced the plans”. He went on to analyse L&Q finances and challenged their estimate of £550,000 a year for 16 wardens. The upgrading estimate of £11 million should, he argued, be capitalised at about £700,000pa which was more affordable.
The MP praised Bexley Council Leader Ian Clement, the Chief Executive Nick Johnson and local Councillors Cheryl Bacon, Ross Downing and Don Massey for their support. He paid particular tribute to Councillor John Waters who chairs the Council’s working group of members and officials examining the L&Q scheme.
Having laid the problem before the House, Mr. Conway went on to demolish the L&Q case for closure, urged the minister to ensure that the Housing Corporation will support transfer of ownership from L&Q to another provider and got the Minister to place on record the Government’s support for sheltered accommodation as a viable option in the future. He told the House that whilst sometimes visiting residential or nursing homes could be depressing, sheltered accommodation developments were “invariably cheerful places where residents had the independence of their own flat but the companionship of the communal lounge when they wanted some company”.
The MP paid tribute to the Frank Godley Court action group and to the wardens of developments who did so much to support the residents and concluded saying that “our elderly residents deserve better; London & Quadrant must think again!”.
David Evennett, MP for Bexleyheath and Crayford, spoke up for elderly residents of sheltered housing schemes in his constituency during an adjournment debate in the House of Commons yesterday. Mr Evennett raised particular concern about proposals by London and Quadrant to close Elwick Court in Crayford without proper consultation.
Mr Evennett said “The issue, which has aroused such concern and anger across the borough, stems from proposals put forward by London and Quadrant last year, which came like a bolt from the blue. [Bexley MPs] were not consulted or even advised about the plans; we were excluded completely. London and Quadrant was determined to close a number of sheltered homes”.
Mr Evennett continues to make representations on behalf of residents to London and Quadrant and Bexley Council after receiving complaints from residents and relatives.
He added “We are talking about people’s homes and the quality of their lives, and the views of elderly, vulnerable people were not being considered in London and Quadrant’s proposals. Matters should not be dealt with in that way, as I am sure that the Minister will agree”.
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