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The charge for community alarms was scrapped in April
The charge for community alarms was scrapped in April

North Lanarkshire Council is encouraging residents get their community alarm reinstalled now the service is free again.

The council decided to scrap charges for community alarms in April, less than a year after introducing the controversial fee.

The £5 weekly charge was introduced for nearly 10,000 users last August, but in December over 1000 sheltered housing residents were told they no longer had to pay.

After extra money was put into the social work budget during February’s budget depute council leader Paul Kelly successfully put forward a motion to reestablish the service with no charge for everyone.

Since then the council has seen a significant increase in service users, with vulnerable people living at home or being discharged from hospital being the main users.

Now it wants to hear from people who stopped using the service when charges were introduced, but who might wish to have the alarm reinstated following the removal of charges.

Councillor Gillian Fannan, vice-convener of the social work sub-committee, said: “Even though council services are under severe financial pressure, we decided to make sure that community alarms were free of charge.

“It’s important that individuals or families who previously used this service get in touch if they feel they would benefit from the installation of an alarm.

“Many people who left the service have already come back to us, but I am asking those who haven’t yet done so to contact us.

“We have set up a dedicated phone line for people who might want to discuss having their community alarm service reinstalled.

“People should call 01698 403278 between 8.45am and 4.45pm Monday-Thursday and between 8.45am and 4.15pm on Friday.”

Part of the motion Councillor Kelly presented in April will also see all those who paid to use the service be reimbursed.

It is estimated it will cost around £2.5 million to return the service to that offered before last August.

Councillor Kelly previously stated: “This administration is big enough to admit when a mistake has been made.

“While all this will cost around £2.5 million it is part of the reason why we added an extra £16 million to the social work budget to ensure it would be covered.”

Community alarm users seeking more information about getting a refund should call 01698 403277.