BURTON MP Andrew Griffiths has warned the owner of a closure-threatened town retirement complex not to ‘do a runner with our cash’.
Mr Griffiths has vowed to go to the highest echelons of Government to ensure a £750,000 grant given to Elizabeth Court owner Anchor Trust will stay in the town — whatever happens to the centre.
Anchor has already said it may try to avoid having to pay the cash back by seeking permission from the Tenant Service Authority to ‘recycle’ it in other areas of its work.
However, Mr Griffiths warned he would lobby his former boss, communities minister Eric Pickles, and even the Prime Minister if necessary to ensure that if Anchor did sell the land for redevelopment it would be forced to hand over the grant money.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “I’m adamant that the £750,000 of public money invested in Elizabeth Court must stay in Burton, whatever happens to the complex.
“I am simply not prepared to let Anchor close down a well-loved home and pocket three quarters of a million pounds of our money in the process. I will lobby ministers, the secretary of state and the Prime Minister if I have to, to make sure Anchor don’t do a runner with our money.” Mr Griffiths hopes the prospect of having to pay back the cash will deter Anchor from selling the site to a developer and encourage it to accept Trent and Dove Housing’s offer to take over the complex and keep residents in their homes.
Meanwhile, Anchor has changed its description of the complex on the website where it is offering Elizabeth Court site for sale.
As previously reported, the firm advertised the complex through property consultant GVA Grimley as ‘formerly sheltered accommodation for older people’, but that description has now been removed in response to the Mail’s story.
In an email sent to potential bidders, GVA Grimley confirms the deadline for offers on the site is noon on January 28 and states that viewing days will be held during which ‘interested parties and their consultants will be able to carry out inspections’ of the property.
Callers to GVA Grimley are being told they should make offers on the property based on the assumption that it will be vacant, but advised the company does not know when that might be.
However, campaigners against the closure are urging residents to stay put, as any potential bidder would be unable to proceed with redevelopment while residents remain, and Anchor is unlikely to want to take the drastic step of obtaining court orders to force out elderly tenants who refuse to move.