A senior citizens group is calling on Dumbarton residents to back their protest against the council's decision to double the cost of community alarms.

This week eleven members of Clydebank Seniors Forum, including one 90-year-old, met with officials at the council's Church Street offices and handed over 45 letters objecting to the price hike from £2.62 to £5 per week.

But only one councillor, Jim Bollan, made the meeting, despite the forum’s chair Daphne MacKay inviting all 22 from the authority.

She told the Reporter: "We are campaigning on behalf of all residents in West Dunbartonshire.

"The more people we can get to come and stand with us the better or if someone in Dumbarton would like to take it up on behalf of this area.

"Now is the time for everyone to come together in support of opposing change."

One hundred and sixty people have already given up the life-saving device following the increase, prompting concerns over the safety of many elderly and vulnerable people within West Dunbartonshire.

The forum also worry that with many users housebound, their energy bills will be higher and the increase could lead to them turning down their heating and risking their health.

Daphne added: “It’s a lifeline which allows people to stay in their own homes instead of going into care. It’s there because you need it. It’s dreadful if you are forced into a position of handing it back.

“An increase in price is inevitable, but everything is going up – rents, tax, gas and food – all the things that are essential to keep comfortable in your own home. This massive increase is too much.

“It’s the straw that broke the camel’s back. I hope that as a result of this, of consultations, it can be brought down to a more reasonable figure, one that is within reach.”

They shared their concerns with Beth Culshaw, the chief officer of West Dunbartonshire Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) at the meeting in Dumbarton.

Richard Heard from the council's Home Care Service was also in attendance.

Following the discussion, Daphne said: “I do not think we are going to get anywhere, but we are not finished yet.

“I think they were quite sympathetic. Many of the things I took up with them they have already been dealing with.

“They say they have interviewed everyone thinking of giving it up and, if it’s for financial reasons, seeing if they are eligible for any help.

“It’s a bit of stalemate, but we’ll keep going."

Read more: Outrage after cost of life-saving community alarms DOUBLES

A spokeswoman for West Dunbartonshire Council described the meeting as very productive.

She told the Reporter: “We heard great examples of the benefits of having a community alarm and how it has helped members to remain at home with the confidence and reassurance that help is there if needed.

“WDHSCP is committed to keeping residents at home in a safe environment and before removing any alarms will conduct a full risk assessment.

"It is wrong to suggest that residents will have to wait 18 months for equipment to be removed from homes as this will be done without delay.

“Of the 197 residents who initially cancelled their community alarm, 37 have, on reflection, decided to keep the service.

"Unlike other authorities, WDHSCP offers a range of additional services including smoke and fall detectors, bed and chair sensors, property exit sensors, bogus caller and panic button trigger and GPS Buddi system, which we do not charge.

“We will continue to monitor the impact of the decision and a report will come to a future HSCP board meeting.”

Councillor Bollan, meanwhile, described the increase for the life-saving device as "scandalous" and called on the council to revisit the decision and overturn it.

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