BURTON MP Andrew Griffiths has told residents of Elizabeth Court he is ‘optimistic’ the closure-threatened retirement complex can be saved.
In a rallying call to tenants, Mr Griffiths urged them to continue their fight against owner Anchor Trust’s plans to close the centre, in Brough Road, Winshill.
Describing residents as ‘the awkward squad’, he said Anchor had been taken by surprise by the ferocity of their opposition and the Mail’s campaign against the closure.
He urged them to continue showing the ‘Blitz spirit’ they had demonstrated in their struggle, as talks continued over a possible transfer of the scheme to Burton housing association Trent and Dove.
Mr Griffiths told residents: “If you’d asked me two or three months ago I’d have said it looked like the writing was on the wall, but now I’m optimistic. I really feel we are in with a fighting chance.
“As far as Anchor was concerned it was a done deal.
“Who’d have thought three months down the line we’d still have hope?
“You are the awkward squad and it’s because you’ve been awkward that Anchor has realised the way it has gone about things was wrong. We are the worm that turned and Anchor weren’t expecting the kind of backlash they got.
“There’s a lot of talks going on behind the scenes but there’s a real determination from Trent and Dove, from myself and from the Burton Mail to keep on fighting.
“To some people this is just bricks and mortar, a commodity with a price attached to it, but to you it’s a home, somewhere you’ve spent a long portion of your lives.
“I know it’s a worrying time and it’s constantly niggling at the back of your mind but I want to reassure you that it’s not over yet. You are not on your own.”
Meanwhile, Mr Griffiths has slated Anchor after the firm hinted it would try and avoid having to pay back a £750,000 Government grant if it sells the site on for anything other than its current use.
As previously reported, the company, which is in talks with developers, said it may try and avoid having to pay back the cash by seeking permission from the Tenant Service Authority to ‘recycle’ the grant for use elsewhere within the company.
Mr Griffiths told the Mail: “It would be outrageous and unforgiveable if £750,000 committed to social housing in Burton was channelled somewhere else, instead of to a valuable resource providing homes for elderly and vulnerable people in Burton.
“I’m going to do everything in my power to ensure this money stays in Burton and provides homes for Burtonians.”