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Warden protests mar Barnet mayoral celebrations
ANGRY protesters disrupted Barnet Council’s mayoral ceremony last night as they campained to keep sheltered housing wardens.
About 60 elderly residents and supporters greeted the new Mayor of Barnet, Councillor Brian Coleman, with placards and slogans as he arrived to take his oath of office at Hendon Town Hall, in The Burroughs, at 6.30pm.
Police officers supervised the demonstration as campaigners gave their 1,500-signature petition to outgoing mayor John Marshall before the handover ceremony.
They were kept out of the invite-only council meeting by private security guards.
Vicky Morris, 44, from Fulbeck Drive, Colindale, organised the protest. She said: “I hope it had an impact. I think the councillors can now be in no doubt about our feelings on the issue.
“They were expecting to turn up to a formal occasion and were greeted with a lot of angry people.
“It was mainly residents protesting, which in one sense is a good thing, as they are having their voices heard, but on the other hand is a shame as these old people are being forced to march and wave placards themselves.
“But whatever decision is made in June, we will carry on fighting.”
Under the plans, residents in Barnet’s 52 sheltered housing schemes would lose the people who help them with day-to-day activities and raise the alarm during an emergency.
The service would be replaced with “floating” wardens who visit residents with specific needs.
Iris Howlett, 57, from Addison Way, Temple Fortune, accompanied six residents, aged between 70 and 94, to present the petition to Mr Marshall.
She said: “We have attended various council surgeries to discuss this matter, but none of the councillors seem to know what they are voting for.
“We are a democratic society and hopefully our demonstration will convince them to take an hour out of their time to read up about the issue.
“The mayor said he would read through the proposals again and get in contact with his colleagues, so we are hoping this will not be in vain.”
The council hopes to save £950,000 from the cuts, which it has vowed to put towards services for elderly and vulnerable people who do not live in sheltered housing.
Lynne Hillan, cabinet member for community services, said: “We have to think of everyone. Obviously people in sheltered housing are extremely important to us, but there are a lot of extremely important people living in the borough who we also need to provide for.”
Barnet cabinet will vote on the issue at a meeting on June 8.