Tyne & Wear

Newcastle tower block tenants protest at concierge 'cut'

Banner hanging out of tower block window saying: "Not enough staff to keep us safe." Image copyright Acorn
Image caption Some residents hung banners from their windows

Tower block tenants have staged a protest over a "drastically reduced" concierge service.

Organisers say removing a 24-hour caretaker service has left tenants in Newcastle "at serious risk of harm", anti-social behaviour and theft.

Landlord Your Homes Newcastle (YHN) said recent changes did not include removing the 24-hour service, which had been scrapped in 2013.

Before that it was only available in "a very small number of blocks", it said.

Tenant Claire Wood said she had been assaulted in her flat by someone who had walked past the now empty concierge desk.

"If there had been a concierge at the door my attackers wouldn't have got in; they definitely don't live here," she said.

YHN assistant director Ian Gallagher said the latest changes followed "extensive consultation".

The company recognised some customers valued a 24-hour caretaker, he said.

"Under the new service, which is currently being rolled out across the city, residents in each block have a named caretaker to contact during the day, something which customers told us they valued," he said.

"A smaller team of caretakers and responsive staff, supported by on-call senior management, are on duty overnight in case of emergencies."

Image copyright Acorn
Image caption Some residents took part in a protest over 24-hour concierge provision

Some tenants at Heaton Park Court, Molineux Court and Grafton House in Byker are being represented by community organisation Acorn, which says it acts in the same way as a union and charges for membership.

Acorn said each tenant pays about £15 a week for YHN's concierge service.

Regional organiser Ellen Moran said: "Absolutely no-one I have spoken to from tower blocks across the city think that cuts to concierge staff are a good idea.

"YHN are very good at making themselves sound like they're acting in tenants' interests, but we know that it's all about money."

Mr Gallagher said "the vast majority" of tenants were not members of Acorn.

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