Threat to service sparks concerns

By Ian Dipple Friday 25 January 2013 Updated: 25/01 12:48

THE BOROUGH council could lose responsibility for providing its lifeline service to a private company.

Worcestershire County Council wants just one organisation providing the emergency alarm service and has invited bids.

The aim is to mainstream telecare systems across the county as part of efforts to make the service more accessible and help people live independently in their own homes for longer, as well as save £1.5million from the adult social care budget.

Redditch Borough Council currently provides the service to 3,105 residents in Redditch and over 2,000 in Bromsgrove while Worcestershire Telecare serves the rest of the county.

The council is too small an organisation to bid to run the service across Worcestershire and so has joined forces with Worcestershire Telecare to apply to take on the service.

An equipment provider will also be brought into the agreement if needed.

But the council is expected to face stiff opposition, with telecom giants such as BT expected to express an interest. If the council’s bid fails it will have a financial cost with the contract worth £212,000 a year. There are also wider implications as the lifeline system is linked into CCTV monitoring for the two towns as well as Wyre Forest. If the contract is lost it would trigger a service review and could result in job losses.

Councillors also raised concerns at a recent full council meeting they could lose control over the quality of the service if a private company was brought in and the monitoring centre at the Town Hall lost.

Coun Mike Chalk said: “We would lose that local base and with it would go that local knowledge and the connection with local people.

“We must ensure if we possibly can we don’t lose that local connection.”

Coun Rebecca Blake, responsible for community safety on the council, said she was optimistic but ‘holding her breath’ about the council’s chances of retaining the service.

“For a lot of vulnerable people we are providing a really good service and as a council we get a lot of positive comments about lifeline. I’m pleased officers are working hard to secure the service.”

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