Walsall – where grass cuttings and air conditioning are more important than supporting the vulnerable

I’m featuring here today an email I’ve received on a very important matter from someone whom I have a great deal of regard for – John Bird of Brownhills. John is a much respected older resident of our town and someone who’s very concerned about a pressing issue: That of Walsall Council’s withdrawal of the Community Alarm Service for the elderly and vulnerable.

Alarm units like this one from Lifeline24 are a genuine lifesaver for those prone to falls and collapse – and they can enable continued independent living.

This is a story that’s caused a lot of anguish over recent months – Head of Walsall Council Mike ‘Blofeld’ Bird and the ruling Tory group have pushed through this deeply unpopular cut whilst restoring brown bin collections this year to fortnightly and spending a fortune on air conditioning, IT and other fripperies.

It seems Big Mike keeping cool and Streetly’s grass cuttings are more important than the lives and health of the frail and ill.

Linda Mason wrote a beautifully excoriating blog post about this you can read here. There has been coverage at the Express & Star here and there’s a Facebook support group – Sitizens Against Cuts – run by the wonderful Amy Wolfs here.

I’d venture readers should consider these points carefully when casting their vote in the upcoming elections, and try and see the deeper picture beyond the current rash of political stunts on both sides.

John Bird has periodically written clear, eloquent and concise letters to the local press – the ones that have always stuck in mind have been the ones relating to the development and plans for Brownhills High Street, and he’s written some brilliant stuff over the years.

John Bird wrote:

Community Alarm Service.

I am very sad to note that Walsall Metropolitan Borough Council has chosen to close down the Community Alarm Service. I have a number of friends and relatives who have used this service, some of whom have actually been saved from further suffering and in one case, I believe, potentially lifesaving.

This is, to my mind, is another public service that has, effectively, been ‘privatised’ as any users of any replacement service will have to pay for it.

Now I appreciate that the Conservative government’s cuts are eating into the Council’s services but I am sure that savings could have been made elsewhere voluntarily or otherwise.

The Council membership is evenly balanced with the mayor having a casting vote. This prompts me, therefore, to suggest that if members, with a sympathetic approach to this service, had voted with their conscience, then the mayor’s casting vote would have not been needed.

As a concerned Brownhills resident I have to ask, therefore, did the two Conservative councillors, Ken Ferguson and Stephen Craddock, vote for the withdrawal of this vital service? I do hope not.

John Bird.  


What do you think? Please do comment here or mail me BrownhillsBob at Googlemail dot com.

Again, thanks to John for making an excellent, thoughtful point.

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3 Responses to Walsall – where grass cuttings and air conditioning are more important than supporting the vulnerable

  1. Paul says:

    Despicable – this is not somewhere any politician with an ounce of compassion should be considering making cuts.

    I would hasten to add to the mention of the Mayoral deciding vote that the Conservatives in Walsall have gone against tradition in the Mayoral appointment in order to keep hold of power (hmmm… power at all costs, sound familiar) and if they had kept to tradition (as the Labour Group have previously done to their own detriment) they would not currently hold the balance of power. I truly hope that their underhandedness becomes their undoing.

  2. Eleanor Price says:

    I worked as a community alarms operator.such a shame it has left so many people vulnerable.

  3. Susan Osborne says:

    Someone who lives alone with no family suppport is not going to be able to set up a new provider could end up seriously ill or even dead, they did not help in any way to set up new providers just gave a list

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