A GROUP of Penarth residents are facing demands from the local authority to pay for unwanted alarms.

Following a report in last week’s Barry and District News that a man was forced to pay for a Telecare alarm by the Vale, several Penarth residents have anonymously reached out to the Penarth Times to say they face similar situations.

When residents moved into their properties, they signed contracts with an alarm system funded by VCAS.

Although the service was free, the council began charging tenants from April, at an annual cost of around £120. With active landlines needed, it can cost up to £400 a year, depending on line charges.

One resident said: “When I moved in I asked what it was. The housing officer said don’t worry about it - it’s paid for by the council. Then I received a letter on May 18 saying I’m in arrears and I owe them £20, that I have to pay.

“I wasn’t asked if I wanted one, I wasn’t told how it worked. I was just told not to worry about it. I rang a housing officer on May 30 and she said I might need it one day. In 20 years maybe I will, but that will cost me more than £2,000 by then.

“My neighbour is paying, even though she doesn’t have an alarm. A council officer came with the alarm in hand, saw she didn’t have a landline socket for it and left, but they’re still charging her.

“I tripped over mine a few months ago and pulled it out - I ended up putting it in the cupboard and nobody noticed. How useful can it be?”

“When you are on a pension this can represent a huge amount of your income.”

A Vale council spokesperson said: “The Telecare system comes as part of the tenancy agreement at this location, and residents are advised about this prior to moving in. It provides around the clock assistance for people in an emergency situation. Previously, this facility was subsidised by Welsh Government, but funding is no longer available meaning tenants must now meet part of the cost, currently £2.14 a week.

“The system simply plugs into a power supply and phone line and assistance is provided for any resident experiencing difficulties operating their device.

“If there are issues with hazardous wires, the individual in question can report that to the council and we will ensure the situation is addressed immediately. Obviously, the device will not work if it is unplugged and put in a cupboard or if a tenant does not have a landline. The council would not be aware of these situations, but it is up to the individual tenant if they wish to do this.

“The neighbour referred to last used her device in 2012, indicating it was installed and operational. Since then this device has been misplaced and the resident has indicated they do not want another one.”