Coastline residents told to pay for alarm or move out
ELDERLY and disabled tenants claim they have been told they will have to leave their supported housing unless they pay for an alarm system which is currently provided in their homes for free.
Residents at the Coastline Housing properties in Redruth said they were told they must pay for the Lifeline Alarm system – which is connected to 24-hour emergency support – since the company has had its funding withdrawn.
Many of the 57 residents at Strawberry Lane and Pond Lane have been signing up to the new contract "out of fear", according to resident Patricia St Leger.
She has been living at Strawberry Lane for ten years and told frontline staff she would not pay the charge. She has collected signatures from 17 of the 18 residents, who claimed they were coerced into signing the contract.
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"They all felt threatened that if they didn't sign it they would lose our homes," said the 73-year-old.
"Some of the residents signed out of fear, and many didn't even know what they were signing. It is disgusting the way they did it."
Information about the charge for the alert system was sent to all 650 residents of Coastline Housing in Camborne, Redruth, Helston and The Lizard in June.
Frontline staff have since visited all the residents asking them to sign a direct debit for £2.83 per week from October 1.
A spokesman for Coastline said 90 per cent of the residents had already agreed to pay the fee.
Pond Lane resident Anthony Jacobs said he was told by staff that the £2.83 fee would almost double from next year and he would be evicted if he did not pay it.
"I signed the form under duress," said Mr Jacobs. "They told me if I did not sign I would be moved."
Mr Jacobs has since ripped up his contract and is joining other residents in refusing to pay.
Coastline's chief executive Robert Nettleton said funding for the service from Cornwall Council was withdrawn in May.
He added: "People are not going to lose their homes. I do not believe that frontline staff have said you will have to move out.
"If people are saying they do not want the service then it is likely it will not be provided."
Following questioning by the West Briton, Coastline said it will send tenants a document stating that if they do not wish to pay for Lifeline it will "ensure you have thought about how you will get help in an emergency".
They will be asked to sign a consent form to confirm they chose to terminate the service.