ELDERLY people living in a retirement complex run by Wiltshire Council say they have become suicidal over a compulsory payment for care they do not want or need.

In protest they have now stopped paying the £92.96 fee charged every four weeks by the council.

They say they upset over the payment for a core care package has left them hating their lives at Needham House in Victoria Road, Devizes which was opened among great fanfare by the council three years ago.

The elderly tenants, who also pay more than £700 a month in rent, council tax of £135 and a service charge of about £60, say their complaints have constantly been ignored by the council.

They do not want to be identified for fear of reprisals but have spoken in detail and in person to the Gazette. They accept others in the complex want and use the service but believe it should be possible to opt out.

One retired nurse, who is in her 80s, said: “I really hate it here. All the worry over the payments is getting too much for me. I have had a very happy life but now I think there might only be one way out.”

Another elderly man told how his wife had returned to their apartment to find him with a plastic bag over his head.

He said: “It is all to do with these payments. It is just wrong. We do not want this service so we should not have to pay for it.”

His wife said that: “All I can think about is this. We really, really wish we had never come here.

“The care package was originally described as optional but we are now tied into a contract and we can’t get out of it.

“We have never used this service but we are having to pay for it every four weeks.

Another resident who is withholding payment of the fee as she says she cannot afford to pay said: "There are lots of problems here. I used to have a bungalow in Devizes but kept falling over so my family wanted me to come to somewhere with more support. But it is not like that. I wish I had never moved."

The ‘sleeping in’ service is provided at night by private company Cera who are contracted by Wiltshire Council.

A spokeman for Wiltshire Council said: Cllr Simon Jacobs, Cabinet member for Adult Social Care “The core care package is part of an agreement that residents enter into with the onsite provider when moving into Needham House. It is not related to personal care but provides onsite support in case of emergencies.

“The council supports residents in making separate personal care arrangements where needed. Some residents have said they would prefer to either not have the core service or not pay the charge. However, we understand other residents at Needham House value the service and want it to stay.

“We have been in conversation with residents about options. Government restrictions have prevented us from meeting with residents more recently and we sympathise with them over the delay. We will continue the conversation with residents and resolve this issue at the earliest opportunity within Government guidelines.”