Outrage at alarm service charge in Midlothian

Vulnerable users of a personal alarm service are returning lifeline equipment after the introduction of charges by Midlothian Council.

The Community Alarm Service (CAS) enables the elderly and disabled to summon help to their home in the case of a fall or similar emergency.

But a £2-per-week charge, introduced on April 1, has prompted some users to hand back their alarms.

Polton resident George Mullholland intends to return his 68-year-old wife Amy’s, even though it puts her at risk.

He told the Advertiser that keeping it would be akin to reducing their annual heating allowance by half.

Amy has had mobility issues since suffering a brain aneurysm 24 years ago. She has had one hip and both shoulders replaced, and also suffers from epilepsy and amnesia.

Mr Mullholland said: “It worries me what might happen to her because she was taking seizures and falling on a daily basis.

“But people in our situation cannot go out and work to earn extra money to pay for these unfair charges. Instead of using bully boy tactics the council should be making cuts internally. It makes you wonder what will be withdrawn next?”

Around 2,000 people use the alarm service in Midlothian. The council insists that it has “one of the lowest charges”.

However, in the Lothians region – East Lothian Council charges £1.64 per week, while West Lothian Council provides the service free of charge.

The City of Edinburgh Council determines charges by considering the level of service provided and a person’s ability to pay.

Read full story in the April 11 edition of the Midlothian Advertiser