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MP fears Elizabeth Court bulldozers are poised


Thursday 25th November 2010 (Andrew Griffiths)

THE HOUSING firm planning to close a Burton retirement complex is in talks with developers seeking to bulldoze it and redevelop the land, the town’s MP has claimed.

Andrew Griffiths says Jane Ashcroft, chief executive of Anchor Trust, had told him the ‘possible purchasers’ of Elizabeth Court which the company talks about in its latest newsletter were ‘builders and developers’ rather than firms seeking to take on the scheme as a going concern.

Meanwhile, Mr Griffiths claims Anchor would have to pay back a £750,000 housing grant to the Government if it sells on the site in Brough Road, Winshill, for anything other than its current use.

He warned Anchor that if it sold the land to developers rather than accept any potential offer from housing association Trent and Dove, with whom the company is in talks, it would be ‘putting profit above the security and happiness of residents’.

The MP told the Mail: “It would be totally unacceptable for Anchor to reject a bid that would allow the residents to stay in their homes in favour of maximising payback for the company.

“If they sell the land to somebody who is not a provider of social housing they would have to pay back £750,000 to the Government, but if they transferred the scheme to Trent and Dove they wouldn’t have to pay back that money.

“It seems ridiculous to me for the sake of saving a few hundred thousands pounds to put profit ahead of the happiness and security of their vulnerable and elderly tenants and the future of an important asset for Burton.

“Anchor is a not-for-profit organisation and at its heart should be the help and support of vulnerable residents.

“It would be incredulous for them to put profit ahead of the quality of life and happiness of their tenants.”

An Anchor spokesman said it would be ‘inappropriate’ to comment on the nature of the interest from other firms while talks were ongoing, but vowed to ‘keep tenants fully informed of any substantive developments if and when they occur’.

Meanwhile, Anchor acknowledged the housing grant Mr Griffiths referred to but hinted that the company may be able to find a way to avoid having to pay it back.

The spokesman said: “We are aware of the housing grant Mr Griffiths refers to and its reimbursement is one possible result.

“An alternative outcome is, with the approval of the Tenant Service Authority, the grant will be recycled and used in other areas of Anchor’s housing work.”

Anchor says 14 of the original 54 tenants have either moved out since the closure was announced three months ago or are planning to do so.

However, campaigners fighting to save the scheme say the majority of tenants are determined to stay put.

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