Eilidh Whiteford



Tuesday, 22 March 2011

Enquiries made by Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford following a recent fire in an Aberchirder sheltered housing complex have revealed a shocking lack of basic safety procedures and contingency plans on the part of Aberdeenshire Council.

As Aberdeenshire Council prepares to force through cuts in warden cover in sheltered homes across the North-east, the local MP questioned what effect such cuts would have in the event of an emergency, and cited the recent fire in Walker Court, Aberchirder as an example. In his response to Dr Whiteford, Grampian Fire & Rescue Service Chief Fire Officer, David Dalziel, revealed:

“It became apparent to crews that there were no duty carers or wardens in attendance but, through local knowledge by the officer in charge, he was able to contact an assistant warden to get her to attend.

“There is no record of any consultation by Aberdeenshire Council with Grampian Fire & Rescue Services in respect of warden cover at Walker Court . Neither local crews nor our Control Room staff were aware of changes to warden arrangements.

“Given the change in circumstances, however, we have now arranged to conduct a test of the evacuation procedures and carer/warden response.”

The Chief Fire Officer went on to state:

“I have asked my Head of Community safety to contact the relevant head of service within Aberdeenshire Council (and our two other constituent councils) to ensure that there are robust fire safety procedures in place in Walker Court and similar establishments throughout the North east.”

The Banff & Buchan MP has recently met with representatives from a number of sheltered housing complexes in her constituency, and has been greatly concerned by their fears that warden cover was to be cut, with proposals that many of the smaller units would have to share wardens. She remarked:

“My SNP colleagues on Aberdeenshire Council proposed a fully-costed amendment to the budget which would have preserved much more frontline services, including sheltered housing warden cover, but that was rejected.

“I was already very disturbed to hear of the cuts to warden cover which the Liberal Democrat/Conservative administration in Aberdeenshire Council was proposing. Now I find that they have not even seen fit to ensure the safety of my constituents under existing arrangements.

“I therefore have no confidence in their ability to provide the standard of safety procedures required by such frail and elderly residents in the aftermath of the reductions in warden cover which they seem so determined to impose.

“Clearly, they have not fully thought through the implications of their proposals and I would urge them to reconsider their position on this as a matter of urgency. It is not acceptable that such vulnerable people should be left feeling so worried and uncertain of the Council’s plans for them.”

  © Blogger templates Newspaper by 2008

Back to TOP