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DAVID HOGARTH: Access team rises to meet challenge

PUBLISHED: 15:31 21 December 2009 | UPDATED: 16:39 07 September 2010

Some congratulations this month. Your Local Involvement Network (LINk) was worried that the people who answer the phone for social services (0207 641 1175) were being given a lot more to do and might not do it very well. So we made test calls and found th

Some congratulations this month. Your Local Involvement Network (LINk) was worried that the people who answer the phone for social services (0207 641 1175) were being given a lot more to do and might not do it very well. So we made test calls and found that on the contrary, they were very good.

I rang to say I was afraid of falling down and nobody knowing. They offered me a free link alarm and was there any other help I needed? I also rang to say I was just miserable. They recommended I ring my GP and when it was clear I would never pull myself together and do this, they said they would do it for me.

Thank you to Karen Wilde and her Access team but don't relax too much. The LINk will keep on ringing.

If readers would like to make one of these mystery calls (or are about to make a real one) ring me on 0207 586 5153.

Another pleasant surprise was the vigour and enthusiasm with which Angela Harvey and the councillors on the Built Environment Committee have taken up the battle against cycling on the pavement and are urging the council to get its civil enforcement officers and city guardians authorised by the police to stop offending cyclists. They will need to be in plain clothes and on bikes or mopeds.

This year for the first time ever, actual users were included in the awarding of contracts for providing home care. As I write, we are waiting to hear which providers have been successful.

It is also good to know that whoever it is will have to have electronic monitoring in place by 2011 and that the days of older people being cajoled into signing blank timesheets are numbered.

No attempt to write about the council's virtues would be complete without a thank you for the excellent day centres, homecare and other services for those with Alzheimer's or other forms of dementia and their carers.

To these have just been added a memory service designed to catch dementia early, when treatment helps most. If you are worried that you or someone you love are losing their powers, ask your GP to refer you to the service or ring Jude Sweeting, Development Officer Dementia, on 0207 641 7431.

We have to thank our champion, Cllr Christabel Flight, for many blessings this year. Christabel is brilliant at coaxing and touching the kind hearts of the wealthy and influential and the result has been not only the celebrated tea dance at Grosvenor House (with its marvellous blackcurrant fool) but also the special performances of The Phantom of the Opera and Les Miserables, which older people have enjoyed, or soon will.

Nor is Christabel only interested in the high profile events. Along with Cllr Danny Chalkley, cabinet member for the built environment, and Martin Low, director of transportation and the Westminster Labour Party, she played an important role in getting double yellow lines put on dropped kerbs in the St John's Wood area. Similar changes are badly needed elsewhere in Westminster, especially around Oxford Street.

The Labour party also deserves gratitude for the way they fought for the residents of Devonshire House who were being stranded in their flats when the lift broke down, as it frequently did.

The promise to replace that lift has yet to be fulfilled but, fingers crossed, the old one seems to have stopped breaking down.

Since we are in the season of hope as well as rejoicing, two WOPA hopes are that by December 31 the residents' bays that have been converted to shared use will be residents' bays again and that residents will be able to buy space for their visitors in any residents' bay in Westminster.

Secondly that the council will set itself a challenging target for numbers of people who know how to report a bit of ropy pavement.

Last of all, congratulations to England for being the kind of place where the Wood&Vale can say what it does.

q David Hogarth is chairman

of Westminster Older

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