Hexham MP Guy Opperman in crunch meeting on Blackett Court closure

TWO MPs are joining forces in a bid to persuade a sheltered housing group not to shut down homes and displace elderly residents.

TWO MPs are joining forces in a bid to persuade a sheltered housing group not to shut down homes and displace elderly residents.

Hexham MP Guy Opperman has been fighting to keep Blackett Court in Wylam, Northumberland, open in spite of Anchor Housing Association’s plans to close it and rehouse five remaining residents.

Now he will be joined by Burton MP Andrew Griffiths, who is waging a similar battle to save the homes of 54 elderly residents in a sheltered housing complex in the Staffordshire town.

The two Conservative MPs are to meet Anchor chief executive Jane Ashcroft at the House of Commons on October 12 in a joint attempt to persuade the housing group to make a last-minute U-turn on their closure plans.

At Wylam, campaigners have fought a lengthy battle to stave off closure, with a 500-name village petition going to Anchor’s London HQ.

In Burton, as in Wylam, Anchor has claimed extensive and unaffordable repairs are required – a claim challenged by both sets of tenants.

Mr Opperman said: “Andy Griffiths and I will be meeting the Anchor chief executive together, with each of us having our own case to fight. But there are many similarities in our two cases and we will be asking similar questions of Anchor.

“I want to get right to the bottom of the Wylam case and the reasons given by Anchor for closing Blackett Court. They say that a lot of repairs are needed there, but the people who live there say that is not the case.”

The land at Blackett Court was left to Age Concern by Squire Charles Blackett in 1970, and campaigners say the spirit of the legacy was that the properties would be for the permanent benefit of the elderly and needy. Age Concern later sold the land to Anchor Housing.

Anchor claim there are no restrictions on the property but any profit from the sale of the land would be ploughed back into the care of the elderly.

A spokesman said: “We have carried out a thorough review of Blackett Court, taking into account its age, location, design and ability to attract new tenants in the future.

“Sadly, we have concluded that we have no alternative but to close the scheme.

“We are now focused on ensuring the tenants and their families face minimum disruption.”

Anchor added that their chief executive was happy to meet the MPs and discuss the situation but would not be drawn on whether the housing complexes might be reprieved.

 
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