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THREE THOUSAND SALFORD PEOPLE SAY ‘SAVE THE GRANGE!’
 

Star date: 29th May 2017

PETITION TO BE HANDED TO MAYOR TO SAVE SALFORD'S ONLY DISABLED CHILDREN CARE HOME

"How can you sleep at night?" resident asks Lisa Stone, Salford Council Lead Member for Children

On Saturday, a public meeting was held by the Save The Grange Again campaigners, opposing Salford City Council's plans to shut Salford's only residential care home for disabled children. Lisa Stone, the Council's Lead Member for Children and Young People was present and faced the wrath of the campaigners.

Tomorrow, Tuesday 30th May at 10:30am, outside Salford Civic Centre, the campaigners are handing over a petition to the Salford Mayor, signed by over three thousand people...

Full details here...


Save The Grange Public Meeting Salford Save The Grange Public Meeting Salford Save The Grange Public Meeting Salford
Save The Grange Public Meeting Salford Save The Grange Public Meeting Salford
click image to enlarge

"I do not want to be in a position where people can turn around and say 'The Tories don't care about the vulnerable and neither do this Labour Council'..."


At the Save The Grange Again public meeting at Swinton Moorside Cricket Club on Saturday, one bloke, who said he'd never got involved in any campaigns before, stood up and looked at Councillor Lisa Stone, the Council's Lead Member for Children and Young People...

"I've never heard anything so disgusting in all my life" he said "I know what Labour was, I was brought up around here, it was for the working class people...if you really are honestly doing the job for the right reasons you should just go back and say 'This needs sorting'. Otherwise, how can you sleep at night? It's a disgrace."

Salford Council wants to shut The Grange, the city's only residential home for disabled children, to save £300,000, a figure that was disputed throughout the meeting.

The Council argues that there are only two of the five beds at The Grange currently being used - a 40% occupancy - and, citing the finances, Lisa Stone said "I've got a responsibility to look at the big picture"...

Speakers at the meeting quoted other 'big financial pictures' at her – the Council spending millions of pounds on empty offices owned the Legal and General; letting private developers avoid planning fees and other massive cuts to social care for the city's most vulnerable people...

"The irony" said Paul Gerrard of Salford Against the Cuts "is that every single Labour leader and executive member has said to the people of Salford 'We will protect the most vulnerable people in our city...the Tories are raining down horrendous cuts on the city but you can rely on us to make sensible decisions to defend the vulnerable'...

"...And what we have seen in practice is that the most significant cuts have all been on vulnerable groups, often small, often isolated...the assault on elderly day centres, on transport for disabled adults and on mental health services" he argued, adding that the Council initially changed the use of The Grange from a short term respite centre to a residential home to save money...

"We were told by the Council at the time that the purpose was to bring back children into the city who were in expensive private provision outside of Salford" he said "...and now we're being told there's not enough of those kids in Salford, and we're going to kick them out of Salford again

"We're in the middle of a General Election and we see Jeremy Corbyn and John McDonnell going on the television saying Labour is an anti-austerity party" he explained "...We all want people to vote for Rebecca Long-Bailey and other Labour candidates - and at the same time the Council is going to close a disabled children's care home! What is going on? You couldn't make this up!"

Away from the Politics, with a capital 'P', the poignancy came when parent, Rebecca Howarth, opened the meeting by talking of the "heartbreaking decision" to have children looked after, and Peter Baimbridge from Salford Autism, described a day in the life of an autistic person and the "harm" the young people will feel...

"All these things have been set up for them and now we're just going to dump them; two kids just dropped into the abyss...all these kids know is that their home is going" he said "£300,000 is nothing to what we'll do to these kids. This must stop. The Grange must stay if we have any pretence at being a civilised city..."

A member of staff at The Grange said that one of the residents, Rachel, who has been there for three years is in a much happier position than when she arrived...

"That's going to be taken away...she's going to be moved somewhere...she isn't just going to be moving home, which is stressful, she's going to be moved from all her carers" she said "...Her parents are in contact three times a week, we have granddad who turns up usually once a week and sits reading with her for an hour, both grandparents have contact. If that child is moved away that contact is not going to be sustainable...it's disgusting...You are not supporting these families..."

Lisa Stone responded that she "appreciated the passion and emotion in the room and I'm not saying this is something that we don't care about...but I am still saying there are two people in a five person house so we are paying for empty beds..."

She was informed that the union had proposed an alternative which would see the unit reduced to a three bed provision but had heard nothing back from the Council.
Ameen Hadi, of Salford City UNISON, which represents staff at The Grange who are currently in the midst of a consultation about the closure, said that it hadn't made any sense why the Council had decided to pick on The Grange...

"If you talk about occupancy rates, the occupancy rates are no different from any other children's home in Salford...in fact some have less than 40% occupancy rates and that worries me" he said "Why are the disabled being picked on?"

He told the meeting that the Head of the Council's service, Mike Kelly, had actually admitted to UNISON that he refused to place any child at The Grange since December because of the budget cut, and that he was aware of at least one child for which this had been the case...

The consultation is "setting up a fait accompli" Ameen explained "What worries me is that it's almost become like a totem pole that they're not willing to give up...

"We're trying to achieve a better way of life for all of us at this moment than under this Tory Government, and I do not want to be in a position where people can turn around and say 'The Tories don't care about the vulnerable and neither do this Labour Council'. And I think this is where they've ended up...what they are proposing is the privatisation of the care of these young people and, really, they need to think again."

Addressing Lisa Stone directly and the two other councillors in the room, Peter Wheeler and John Walsh, Ameen concluded "You can stop this tomorrow and everyone would applaud you for it. And it would be the right thing to do..."

Tomorrow, Tuesday 30th May, at 10:30am, the families of children at The Grange and campaigners will be handing in a petition of over 3,000 names opposing the closure of The Grange to the Salford City Mayor at the Civic Centre in Swinton. They are asking for as many people as possible to join them.


For more details see the Facebook event page Petition Handover – click here

For a full background on the fight to Save The Grange see previous Salford Star article – click here and follow the links

UPDATE: 30th May: Petition handed over to Salford City Council and the Salford Mayor - click here

life is loud wrote
at 17:38:02 on 29 May 2017
That is a lot of money for 2 children where do they go when they are adults
 
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