Many readers will be aware of plans by the charity Abbeyfield to close their assisted living home Tannerswood in Abbots Langley, giving the elderly relatives just 30 days notice.

Firstly may I say that this is most of all a tragedy for the ladies who live in Tannerswood, many of whom I know personally. This is a thriving community, which is supported by many in the wider area of Abbots Langley.

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I first heard of the proposed closure of Tannerswood two weeks ago. I was able to speak briefly to a trustee, who informed me of some of the issues with the building. They assured me that the closure was intended to be temporary whilst the required works were carried out. I asked for further information, and was told that I would need to contact the chairman of trustees for the West Herts charity.

Over the following days I made several attempts to contact the chairman, to ensure that I was fully informed before making my own comments, but it appears that the chairman is unable or unwilling to respond. I have yet to receive a response.

Unfortunately as Abbeyfield is an independent charity, no council has any power to intervene. If the residents have care needs, then Hertfordshire County Council has the responsibility to ensure they are met. If the residents become homeless then Three Rivers will have a duty to rehouse them. However that accommodation would either be in a sheltered flat or a bungalow or maisonette, and may not be in this area. Clearly this is not the type of accommodation that the residents have selected for their senior years.

I am unhappy with the lack of response that I have received,especially taking into account that this is not some administrative matter, but people’s lives and homes. I have therefore written to the Chairman of Abbeyfield asking the following questions:

1. When were the critical issues regarding the building first known about?

2. What does the apparently damning fire inspection report say? Can I please see a copy?

3. What other essential and desirable works need to be carried out?

4. Are there accurate costings for these works?

What efforts have been made to raise the funds required to carry out the works required?

5. Is the closure now intended to be permanent?

6. If the property was to be closed and sold, would the funds remain in Abbots Langley or be spent on Abbeyfield properties elsewhere?

7. Why is there no evidence of a sinking fund for essential structural repairs?

I have also written to David McCullough, Chief Executive of the Abbeyfield UK charity, asking for his views on the subject and enquiring what can be done to rescue Tannerswood and keep the residents in their homes. In view of the fact that we are almost halfway through the initial 30 days, if I do not receive a speedy response, I will follow up by phone.

I understand that this may not offer the firm action that many have been hoping for. However in the absence of any power for the council to intervene, my best hope is to keep up the moral pressure to have questions answered and to see Tannerswood retained as a home for current residents and for others into the foreseeable future.

Sara Bedford

Leader of Three Rivers District Council