Justice was served when a Plymouth man who has made thousands of pounds conning innocent pensioners was jailed for 14 months. The conman had been posing as a stair lift salesman and convinced his vulnerable clients to order unnecessary and expensive equipment which he then never delivered. He won the confidence of his victims by creating an air on non-existent professionalism, including the logos of major manufacturers in his adverts for instance, even though no contracts or agreements had been reached between Mr. Roach and the said companies.
The road to him being convicted began when Trading Standards became aware that something was going on. Tragically, an elderly couple had lost their life savings and, as a further proverbial kick whilst they were down, had been left without access to all the floors of their home. This then led on to an investigation into the practises of Mister Roach by Devon County Council who said that he had: “”cynically set out to deceive the elderly and disabled”. The council went on to say that: “He took large sums of money from people for stair lifts and then didn’t supply them. In some cases he also took away their existing stair lift leaving them with no means of accessing the first floor of their homes,”
The story raises the argument over whether or now older people are informed adequately about how to deal with people who may come to their door attempting to sell them illegitimate products. Perhaps campaigns which warn pensioners to always ask for Identification of any caller need to be stepped up and enhanced. Old people, especially lonely ones, are vulnerable to conmen and need help to be able to protect themselves and their money.
All in all Roach has been charged with 13 different offences, ranging from breaches of the Theft Act, the Trade Descriptions Act, the Forgery and Counterfeiting Act and the Consumer Protection Act. The move to prosecute may well come too late for some elderly people who have lost their life savings to someone whom they thought they could trust and who they thought would provide them with a much higher quality of life. However, at least a 14 month jail-term means that the conman will be off the streets and that he will not be able to destroy the lives of any more Devonshire pensioners.
Residents in sheltered accommodation in Leicestershire have said that they have been left “miserable and lonely” by a malfunctioning lift. The vulnerable people in St. Mary’s Court at Donnington le Heath have been blighted by the lift which has not been working for around 2 months.
The flats are divided over different levels and are connected by the malfunctioning lift. This has meant that, whilst it has been out of action, many residents have been unable to leave their first floor bedrooms for simple chores such as getting themselves something to eat. The Council has apologised for the situation but have said they cannot speed up the process of fixing the lift as they are waiting on a part coming over from Italy. The Council has said that it will now be focussing its attention on how to avoid such problems in the future. The notion of putting in a stair lift is being considered. Such a step would likely be welcomed by residents as it would mean that, if the lift were to break again in the future then they would still be able to move about their accommodation as they wished. However, obviously a stair lift would not be as desirable as a fully-working lift as only one resident at a time would be able to descend or ascend the stairs and this could lead to backlogs of pensioners during the busiest times.
Residents and their families will likely be wanting to know why the process of fixing the lift has taken so long. Sheltered accommodation is often seen as a viable alternative to pensioners staying in their own homes as it is generally considered that they will be much safer and less vulnerable. This situation has brought into question whether or not this is actually the case. “Can you imagine getting up and just sitting here with no one to talk to all day long? It’s awful.” commented one elderly resident. At a time of their lives when they should be able to relax and feel secure, these elderly people have been placed under an unfair amount of stress and upset. Hopefully the repairs will be made as soon as the elusive part appears from Italy and then the pensioners will be once more mobile and will be able to enjoy the retirement in a manner which is befitting.
Passengers at the Sunderland Metro Station can, if they’ve got any breath left after struggling with prams, heavy bags and suitcases, breathe a sigh of relief now that they are to be given a new lift. It comes as part of a larger £7million refurbishment of the platforms and the station which has been funded by Nexus. Amazingly the station’s main concourse, the main thoroughfare for the thousands of passengers which pass through every day, has been without a lift since the renovation work began in March. Passengers, and station bosses too, will likely now be very relieved that a passenger lift, an essential service, can now be offered once again.
Refreshingly, much of the renovation work which has been going on at Sunderland Metro Station has been carried out at night and thus passengers, whilst many have been without a lift, have not also had to combat severe delays and disruption. There is now not just a light at the end of the proverbial tunnel, but a dazzling shine, as passengers are spoiled for choice with two lifts and a brand new escalator all helping commuters and visitors to the station have a much more relaxing and enjoyable experience.
All walls, ceilings and lighting fixtures were replaced during the massive revamp and it is hoped that such changes, along with the afore mentioned introduction of an escalator, for the first time ever at the Sunderland Metro, will make the place more inviting and make it an integral part of the North’s 21st Century travel infrastructure. The station has had problems in the past with vandalism and it is hoped this work will create a more enjoyable station for everyone to enjoy.
Ultimately the message seems to be one of convenience. Passengers in wheelchairs, the elderly and those with small children will now find it much easier to navigate the station and travel, often stressful at the best of times, will now be that little bit easier. The inclusion of an escalator is also an important step in terms of bringing the Sunderland Metro Station into the 21st Century. Such inclusions will heighten convenience but, it is hoped, will also help curb vandalism by creating a station which has a much more modern look and feel. Commuters to and from Sunderland will now be able to lift themselves above the stress of travelling.
Charities such as Help the Aged have said that they are “appalled” by the latest Government action over old people. The Government has announced that it will relax its proposed rules on room sizes and availability of single rooms, baths and other conveniences in nursing and residential homes throughout England. Charities have said that it is elderly people who will suffer as the result of this latest U-Turn from Westminster.
Care Home Owners are likely to be pleased with the outcome, they had been lobbying for such a U-Turn to take place for quite some time; they claim the new rules will be too expensive to implement and thus many homes would be force to close. Senior Policy Advisor for Help the Aged, Annie Stevenson, has commented that: “The real people who will lose as a result of the government u-turn are older people themselves. All older people, regardless of their income, should have the right to live in a room of their own, with space for visitors and some of their personal possessions. No older person should ever have to expect to share a room with a complete stranger.”
Health Minister Jacqui Smith has commented back, saying that the Government listened “to care home owners, residents and their relatives about the national minimum standards” and that “older people should not have to worry about how their home will meet the costs of some of the more challenging standards”. She went on to argue that now standards had been relaxed, care homes should be able to provide a better quality of care.
However, Help the Aged are not the only people unhappy with this Government decision; Gordon Lishman, the director-general of Age Concern U.K believes that the original aim, of improving the lives of elderly people in care, was being forgotten or lost. The Government does have at least some support for its amendments to the its policy though, the National Care Homes Association commented that the move marked a return to common-sense and pointed out that many homes had been struggling with the financial reality of implementing the changes the Government had proposed. The Chairman of the NCHA, Nadra Ahmed said that, for some care homes, it was already “too late”.
Let’s hope we can find a solution which will keep care homes open but also give our older citizens the care and dignity they deserve.