Debate over baths and showers for council tenants sparks accusations at Norwich City Council

Photo: Nick Butcher.

Photo: Nick Butcher. - Credit: EDP pics © 2007

Labour city councillors have been accused of failing some of Norwich's most vulnerable people, after refusing to back a motion which called for council tenants to be offered the choice of a shower or a bath when their bathrooms are upgraded.

Judith Lubbock, Liberal Democrat councillor for Eaton on Norwich City Council said she has been trying for four years to get the council to rethink its policy of like for like replacements when bathrooms are upgraded.

She cited an example of a husband whose elderly wife was becoming more frail, had arthritis and needed a hip replacement, but who was told he could not have a shower installed when his bathroom was upgraded because she was not registered disabled.

Mrs Lubbock, who tabled a motion calling for the council to ask cabinet to ensure tenants getting upgrades were offered a choice, told a city council meeting last night, said: 'It's clear the council are more concerned with the future tenants than for someone who has been a tenant for 40 years and paid their rent on time during that time.'

Gail Harris, Labour's cabinet member for housing, said the head of housing had been asked to look into the issue and draw up a detailed report for January. She said she could not ask her group to back Mrs Lubbock's motion until that report was produced.

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She also said occupational therapists were used to assess whether people would be better suited to baths or showers.

But Simeon Jackson, Green councillor for Mancroft, said Labour were failing 'some of the council's most vulnerable tenants' and would continue to do so.

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That prompted Mike Stonard, Labour councillor for Catton Grove, to say: 'We do recognise there is an issue. We are living in a post-truth society where people are relying on opinions rather than on an evidence-based approach.

'We have said we need to have this review and we will have that in the new year. We are asking officers to research the facts and explain the issues, so we can make an informed decision.'

After the motion was lost, with all of Labour, bar one abstention, voting against it. Mrs Lubbock said it was 'hugely disappointing'.

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