A 'disgusted' Walsall carer fears lives are at risk as a council's plan to cut funding for its community alarm service moved a step closer.
Last month, Walsall Council's cabinet agreed to stop paying for the £1.29 million service due to budget pressures and transfer it to private providers - but the decision was called in by the Social Care and Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee and debated at a meeting last night (Thursday, November 15).
Mother-of-two Amy Jarvis told committee members that she was a carer for her husband David, who has multiple sclerosis.
And she added the alarm also enabled her to spend more time with her three-year-old daughter Evie and 16-week-old son Mason safe in the knowledge her husband had access to help if needed.
Davina Lytton, Head of Age Matters in Walsall, said pensioners could be left with weekly bills of £14 to carry on having alarms with private companies and added extensive support would be required to help users transfer to private companies, should council funding be axed.
But council bosses said they no longer had the money available to carry on funding the non-core service, which is used by more than 7,000 people.
They added staffing to monitor calls was at a "dangerous" level for the 24/7 service with a reliance on goodwill to cover absences and holidays.
The six-Tory members of the 11-member committee passed a motion to approve the original cabinet decision and the service is set to cease at the end of January.
Authority leader Councillor Mike Bird said: "This was first proposed by the previous administration in February 2017. It was the right decision then and it is the right decision now.
"The £1.2 million needed is money we have not got."
Adult Social Care portfolio holder Rose Martin added: "The Community Alarm Service has not been invested in for a long time.
"What we are trying to do through other providers is to ensure a better quality and safer service. We do understand the concerns and staff will be working hard to ensure all users are sign-posted to new services and properly looked after."
Following the meeting, Brownhills resident Mrs Jarvis - who has launched one of two petitions against the decision, attracting almost 1,900 signatures to date - said: "I'm disgusted. This meeting has proved the council is putting finances before lives.
"It costs the council just £137.82 per year for each user. Scrapping that will put an increased burden on the ambulance and other health services which are already stretched. This decision will cost lives."
David Morgan, Walsall Labour candidate for Brownhills, who supported Mrs Jarvis with her petition, added: "It amazes me how money can be found for vanity projects but not for a vital service such as this."