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'Gimme Shelter' protest heads to court

Following on from this week's programme on the removal of residential wardens from sheltered housing across the country, Panorama's Vivian White offered this update:

Elderly people in sheltered housing aren't just going on protest marches -
they're going to law as well.

Aided by solicitor Yvonne Hossack, Joan Garbet from Eastbourne has mounted a test case to see if the decision by her housing association, Circle 33, which took away her residential warden this year, can be declared unlawful by the Administrative Division of the High Court.

Two arguments have been presented - that the housing association is a "public body" and is therefore subject to this type of challenge; and that her tenancy agreement - which explicitly provided for a resident warden - yet allowed, in the small print, for the management to make changes, which they say, justified their move to so-called "floating support" instead - was an "unfair contract" which cannot stand.

Mr Justice Munby is expected to give his ruling in the case in October, in the Autumn legal term.

Meanwhile, with the same solicitor's help, groups of residents in the London borough of Barnet are also planning to go to the High Court, to challenge its decision, made on 8 June, to get rid of its present system of residential wardens, both in its own properties and in those managed on its behalf by housing associations.

They must make their submission to the court within three months of the council's decision - and if they do, the plan would be to ask the court to "conjoin" - or include - similar challenges to councils and housing associations acting on their behalf elsewhere.

You can read more about Panorama's Gimme Shelter here and find out more about the issue from Help the Aged and Age Concern's Joe Oldman.

The Panorama team will aim to keep you posted on the progress of the court action.


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