Almost in the same breath, however, they were also told that reliable figures indicating the scale of the alleged problem are not available.
There is clearly a paradox here and it is one which must be resolved before the Island advances blindly any further down the road towards development in the countryside. As matters stand, it seems extraordinary that areas all over the Island have already been designated for accommodation for the elderly when the real level of demand is quite obviously something of a mystery.
Steps are at least being taken by the Constables to link much-needed figures to the emotional appeals that continue to be made by Housing Minister Terry Le Main. The Constables Committee met at the beginning of the week and came up with a plan that should lead to the unification of their various lists of older people eager to find suitable housing. It is nothing short of extaordinary, and deeply worrying, that Senator Le Main should have succeeded in pressuring the States to rezone countryside sites without being in possession of this evidence.
There is, meanwhile, a feature of the whole housing for the elderly issue which is almost as perplexing as the lack of solid data about the scale of the problem. It is pertinent to ask who, besides Housing, has classified the over-55s as ‘elderly’. In terms of economic activity and, indeed, of general fitness, health and independence, most Islanders in their late fifties and early sixties are in their prime.
Are we really to believe when the necessary figures emerge there will be a horde of 55-year-olds clamouring for sheltered accommodation? This, to say the least, sounds like a highly fanciful idea.
The picture is, naturally enough, likely to be different as far as older age groups are concerned. Numbers of people in their seventies and eighties can most certainly benefit from housing tailored to their needs, with or without warden supervision.
In spite of this, the lack of relevant data still means that no one appears to know if the areas already earmarked for rezoning for specialised housing are, in terms of the number of units they could accommodate, congruent with demand. It is therefore difficult to avoid the conclusion that, thanks largely to Senator Le Main’s zealous and largely inexplicable advancement of this unproven case, the cart has been put firmly before the horse.