Cheam Conservative councillors have expressed their deep concern at yet another six months slipping by for the much needed improvements in accommodation standards for the elderly residents of Elizabeth House, and adjoining properties, in the heart of Cheam.
I visited Elizabeth House and met around forty members of the Action Group that consists of residents and neighbours to see the considerable upset caused by the presentation of the plans for myself. I am glad that the Council are now reopening the matter to investigate the best option for residents.
Local councillor Graham Whitham's letter to the Liberal Democrat Executive Member for Adult Social Services and Housing has raised concerns that decision makers, local people, and residents did not have access to costed proposals spelling out both the case for rebuilding the site and refurbishment.
Councillor Whitham has unearthed evidence that the Lib Dem-run Council carried out a costed assessment of the case for refurbishment only four years ago. The Council has thus far insisted in all recent reports that refurbishment is simply not an option.
In his letter Councillor Whitham has spelt out his concern and dismay that an earlier lack of available information has caused a further delay over the much-needed improvements. He also questioned an earmarked £18,000 for consultants on information the Council already substantially holds, from the exercise carried out in 2004 which addressed the cost of refurbishment.
Commenting Graham Whitham said: "I think everyone involved shares the view that the existing standard of accommodation at Elizabeth House is frankly unacceptable. 90-year-old residents should not be sharing bathrooms in the 21st Century.
"What we're looking for is a cost effective scheme which meets current and future needs of residents, and most importantly a scheme which causes as little disruption and distress to existing residents. I'd like to thank the Elizabeth House Action Group for raising the profile of their concerns which has made the Council revisit an option it had discarded, enabling me to unearth information that was not readily available."
Councillor Jonathan Pritchard, who also represents Cheam, concluded: "As it now seems - after six months - the Council has accepted refurbishment should be considered as an option. It is now vital that the Council gets a move on and delivers the standard of accommodation that residents deserve."