Did flat fire highlight lack of elderly care?

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VULNERABLE elderly residents at a sheltered housing complex were put at risk and neglected by council staff after a fire broke out, says a tenant.

Firefighters were called to a blaze inside one of the 29 flats in Dudley House, Hempstead Road, Bovingdon, on the morning of Saturday February 18.

Although no residents were injured, Dacorum Borough Council, which is in charge of the complex, has come under fire for a lack of care at the warden-attended housing where many residents are aged over 70.

From last year a warden is now only based at the home on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Stephen Aldridge, 56, who lives there with his partner, said: “At around 7.30am the alarm went off and the hall was filled with smoke.

“We pulled the cord but had no answer for at least three or four minutes. When the firemen arrived they asked where the warden and a list of residents were.

“We told them there wasn’t anything here, and at no time did anyone from the council come along to see what was going on and if we were all OK.

“The fire crews ended up breaking into the warden’s office to try and find a list of residents.

“We pay £7.50 a week for the warden service, but what are we paying for? We only have a warden two days a week now and the council doesn’t send anyone when they’re needed.”

Police are currently investigating the cause of the fire.

Dacorum’s supported housing lead officer Oliver Jackson said: “There is a member of Dacorum Borough Council staff based in each supported housing scheme.

“At this time there is a vacancy for this position at Dudley House, although there have been members of staff covering this vacancy.

“Interviews are currently taking place and the position should be filled shortly.

“Despite there being no out of hours visiting response service, the emergency cord system provides the means for 24 hour emergency contact should it be necessary.

“The organisation that provides this service monitor all the calls made and the time it takes to answer them.

“A member of staff did attend and all tenants were contacted to check they were OK following the incident.”