A high court judge today stopped a council from removing 24-hour live-in wardens from sheltered housing in a blow to the Conservative authority's attempt to remodel itself as "easyCouncil" after the no-frills budget airline easyJet.Because removing live-in wardens to save £1.3m a year was obviously the difference between insolvency and being able to afford yet more community outreach co-ordinators…
The council insisted live-in wardens are too costly at £1.3m a year and said it wanted to spread the funds more widely across services for older people. It planned to save £400,000 from the annual budget and spend the rest on alarm buttons for residents and "floating" wardens.So when your granny falls over in her sheltered accommodation and needs help, help is…well, who knows?
A spokesman for Barnet said the authority was likely to appeal.Indeed there is. The country’s broke. But before cutting a vital service for people who will no doubt have paid tax for most of the lives, there’s a few other things you could look into cutting.
"The judgment suggests that a council has to demonstrate that every member, not just officers, involved in the decision making gave full and stated consideration to all relevant legislation and guidance," he said.
"This raises profound issues for the working of local government. There is a widely understood need for changes in the nature and scope of local government services.
For example, you could stop wasting money on ‘eco buildings’, sort out the schools that are throwing money down the drain on staff bonuses and collect some of the £9 million in unpaid council tax.
Maybe then, they could turn their attention to all the ‘non-jobs’ on the council website. A ‘Childminding Network and Development Officer’? Are you serious?
And maybe after that, they could look at cutting a vital lifeline for the elderly…