Amidst protests outside the Civic Centre yesterday, Salford City Council rubber stamped £15.8million of cuts which included the closure of Salford's only residential home for disabled children, The Grange, to save £300,000.
Outside the Civic Centre, the Mayor and a few of his Cabinet spoke to parents and trade unionists and promised to re-visit two of the proposed cuts to The Grange and Regulatory Services after speaking to parents and union representatives (see previous Salford Star article - click here).
The unions pointed out to the Mayor that a promised visit from a chief officer to staff at The Grange to hear their alternative to closure never happened. Neither had anyone from the Council spoken to the Social Work Disability Team who know what the needs of children with disabilities in the city actually are.
The Salford Star understands that they would oppose the closure as they work with families constantly on the brink of needing accommodation such as The Grange. There are two children possibly in need of The Grange at the moment, despite the Council argument that the home is currently operating under capacity.
Meanwhile, there are council residential homes operating under capacity for children without disabilities which, rightly, are being kept open. The Council argument for keeping them open is that it needs to move children back into the city from outside the area.
As the unions pointed out, there is thus one policy for children without disabilities, to move them into Salford, and another for disabled children to be put in placements outside the city. Effectively this means that every child with a disability will no longer be allowed to live in Salford.
As this anomaly was being discussed, in an effort to spin good news, the Mayor released a statement saying that he'd arranged a £3million fund 'to tackle poverty', which included £300,000 "to keep the streets clean".
While everyone wants clean streets, the contrast between finding £300,000 for this while cutting £300,000 for the most vulnerable children in the city is stark..."It's times like these that a local authority really reveals its priorities..." said the Mayor, with no irony.
"The anti-poverty funds announced today prove our commitment to supporting the most vulnerable of our city's residents" he added "and our determination to create a better and fairer Salford for everyone."
£2million of the £3milion fund also included a 'capital programme to build new low-cost, affordable homes for rent in the city'. This, one could presume, is taken from Section 106 money to come from the vast amount of development in the city. The Salford Star has pointed out repeatedly that over one thousand affordable houses have been lost to the city already thanks to developers avoiding their commitments. In the scheme of the lost money, £2million is peanuts.
Other measures include £170,000 for the Salford Credit Union, £300,000 extra for the Salford Discretionary Support Scheme; £70,000 for the welfare rights and debt advice service in Salford; £10,000 for Salford Women's Aid to help those fleeing domestic abuse and domestic violence; £33,000 for the Warm Homes Initiative and £240,000 for youth services.
The Salford star will be looking into these figures in more depth over the coming weeks. In the meantime, we'll leave readers to make their own minds up about the ethics of £300,000 extra to clean streets, and a £300,000 cut for The Grange's vulnerable children...
Photo by Steven Speed