Cumbernauld and Kilsyth councillors held to account over alarm charges

Every single councillor in Cumbernauld and Kilsyth has been issued with an urgent request by letter – to restore free alarms in the homes of those who rely on this lifeline.

Wednesday, 30th September 2020, 9:18 am

Last week we reported how charges would be introduced on the community alarms, which allow the elderly and vulnerable to call for help through a centralised help point.

The charge was put on hold due to the pandemic but is to be introduced within days after North Lanarkshire Council stated that it was reluctant to pull the service but that it could simply no longer afford to meet the cost, as it attempted to balance its books.

The Scottish Conservatives last week insisted they would campaign to have the charge scrapped altogether but they have now found support from a quite unprecedented source.

For it is a political party that has yet to find common cause with the Tories that has been alone in coming forward to echo this call – namely the Cumbernauld and Kilsyth branch of the Scottish Socialist Party .

And that plea “to urgently reconsider” would seem to have added momentum given the fact that the authority is back in a state of semi lockdown with sizeable restrictions over admitting visitors over the door and with no end in sight.

Their letter states: “To reintroduce charging at this time seems strange as we can all agree that the effects of the pandemic are still with us and likely to continue for vulnerable and elderly residents for some time yet.

“The party wishes to highlight that the economic impact of the pandemic has and will continue to adversely affect those on low income in society including the vulnerable and elderly, the added burden of an annual community alarm charge of £176.80 will not help.”

The party claims that these concerns are highlighted by the 1,388 queries which followed the council’s planned change which it believes “reflects the anxiety and impact’ of the proposal.”

The activists have also cast doubt on NLC’s assertion that no one will fall through the net – after claims that the authority has given no detail on how this can be guaranteed.

The branch message ends by stating: “Local party members believe this action to be an attack on those in greatest need in our community and ask the council to reconsider this decision.”

It asks that councillors respond in writing to the concerns.

Party member Andy Locke said that the timing of the decision could not be poorer adding: “These charges will only add to the stress and worry that people are already feeling in this anxious period. NLC should go back to the drawing board and ditch these charges.”