Disabled and older people have been “left at a disadvantage” by East Dunbartonshire Council in what has been described as “nothing less than a dereliction of duty”.
That is the message of Amy Callaghan MP and Stuart McDonald MP who have slammed council leaders after it emerged that East Dunbartonshire Council operate one of the only services in Scotland not to apply for funding to support older and disabled residents meet the costs of new fire alarms.
This comes as nationwide fire regulations are introduced requiring homeowners to install interlinked smoke alarms, estimated to cost £220 for an average three-bedroom property. To support older and disabled residents meet these costs, the Scottish Government is providing £500,000 to help with installation, in partnership with Care and Repair Scotland.
Local services were expected to apply for a share of the funding that would then be used to support eligible residents, with Lomond and Clyde Care and Repair in neighbouring West Dunbartonshire awarded £10,000 and the service covering North and South Lanarkshire securing £66,000.
Care and Repair in East Dunbartonshire is operated by East Dunbartonshire Council.
Having failed to apply for any funding, East Dunbartonshire Council is forced to fall back on the Scottish Fire & Rescue Service that was given £1 million by the Scottish Government to install alarms in owner-occupied homes identified as being at highest risk.
Kirkintilloch East MP Stuart McDonald has now written to East Dunbartonshire Council to express his frustration, insisting that the Council uses its own resources to ensure residents receive the same service as other local authorities.
Commenting, Amy Callaghan MP said:
“East Dunbartonshire Council has badly let down older and disabled residents. It’s a ridiculous situation and nothing less than a dereliction of duty.
“Residents will rightly question why they regularly hear local councillors bleat about an alleged lack of funding for local authorities, while at the same time East Dunbartonshire Council runs one of the only services in Scotland that didn’t bother to apply for this funding pot.
“They may also wonder that if the Council didn’t apply for this funding, is there anything else that East Dunbartonshire residents are missing out on?”
Cllr Gordan Low, East Dunbartonshire's SNP group leader, added:
"Given the challenges across the public sector, and the financial pressures on our communities, it's vital that the Council takes full advantage of every funding opportunity available. The Council's Tory/LibDem administration is always quick to complain about the funding of local government services, which makes it all the more inexplicable when they fail to claim money offered by the Scottish Government to support a key safety measure for local residents."
Stuart McDonald MP said:
“It is very frustrating that for reasons known only to themselves the Council has once again missed out on vital funding which would have assisted local residents. It is a mystery why EDC has not followed neighbouring local authorities and ensured that the Care and Repair Service had access to these additional resources, instead residents are left at a disadvantage compared to surrounding areas.
“Given the importance of these measures for fire safety, it is imperative that the Council revisits this issue and provides the funding needed to ensure that the Care and Repair Service can provide support to those who need it to install the required smoke alarms.”