Internet-only Redbridge consultation will ‘alienate’ older people

THE elderly are feeling “left out” by the online-only Redbridge Conversation.

That is the verdict of John Coombes, secretary of the Redbridge Pensioners’ Forum, who fears hundreds of borough pensioners will be left “alienated” by the internet budget tool.

The 68-year-old of Oaks Lane, Newbury Park, said: “They will be very under-represented in this consultation. They could be affected most by it, but yet they have no input because so many pensioners don’t have the internet or rely on their grandchildren to help them.”

He added: “Out of the 100 people who come to the forum, only a handful know how to use the internet.”

Adding his voice to the opposition, Bill Howe, of Yoxley Drive, Barkingside, said: “Mainly, people joining in the consultation on the net will be 25-50-year-olds, and the masses of younger people will vote for no cuts in education at the expense of care for the older or less fortunate.

“It may well be the case that OAPs can get help at the library, but people do not want to drag themselves out to do things that they do not fully understand.”

Redbridge Council says it would not be possible to replicate the consultation on paper for non-internet users, but council officials will be visiting day centres, housing community centres, health centres, community associations and elderly groups to encourage people less up to speed with computers to have their say.

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Redbridge library staff have also been trained to help people complete You Choose.