'Andy said that to move children out of borough is unacceptable...'
The fight to Save The Grange, Salford's only residential home for disabled children, is now becoming an even more political issue, with both the Greater Manchester Mayor Election and the General Election looming.
Salford City Council wants to shut The Grange to save £300,000, despite finding £300,000 extra for street cleaning and over £2million to pay rent to the Legal and General Pension Fund for empty office space (see previous Salford Star articles click here and click here).
The families, friends and supporters of the two children staying at The Grange are fighting the Council to keep the home open, not just for their children but also for any families who will need to use the facilities in the future.*
Last week, Lynda Barton, grandmother of Rachel, one of the girls living at The Grange, and Victoria Barton, Rachel's step mum, attended a Mayoral hustings organised by the National Autistic Society and the Manchester Autism Consortium Project...
"It was a great event and the people I spoke to supported our campaign" Lynda told the Salford Star "Although they were sympathetic with our situation and told us to carry on with the campaign they were unable to help us further.
"Andy Burham said that the new elected Mayor would not be able to reverse any decision that a local council had already made but would be able to explore alternative ways to make savings to the budget" she added "Andy also said that to move children out of borough is unacceptable. If the home is to close then alternative arrangements should be found within the same borough..."
If The Grange was to close, Salford Council couldn't keep the children in the borough as there is no other provision within Salford.
Meanwhile, Salford City UNISON, which represents workers at The Grange and across Salford Council, has still not had a response to its alternative proposals for keeping The Grange open, which it submitted around the time of the budget proposals and which Salford Mayor Paul Dennett promised to examine (see here)...
"We are of the view that The Grange should stay open" Salford UNISON rep Ameen Hadi explains "We can't really understand the logic of why the Labour Council would want to remove the only home for disabled children in Salford.
"We don't accept the argument that there is no demand for those places" he adds "We have a number of children with disabilities who are placed in children's homes and there will continue to be a need. It isn't something that families wish to happen but is something that does happen.
"We fully support the Council maintaining its in-house residential sector for able bodied children who need to be accommodated, why do we not have the same provision for those who have disabilities?" he asks "Surely the same logic should prevail. So we will continue campaigning to maintain The Grange, and will offer every support to the parents and families to fight this battle."
Save The Grange supporters have been getting hundreds of people to sign petitions, including at the grounds of Salford Red Devils and Salford City FC, and are now about to step up campaigning during the two elections.
If Salford Labour Party is serious about its commitment to vulnerable people - and the children at The Grange are some of the city's most vulnerable citizens - then surely The Grange will be saved...
*See previous related Salford Star articles for full background...
Families Fight To Save Salford's Only Home For Disabled Children – click here
Salford Mayor Backs decision To Close The Grange - click here
Salford City Fans Sign Petition To Save The Grange - click here
Main photo shows Lynda Barton with Andy Burnham