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HOMELESS DECLARE WAR ON SALFORD COUNCIL
 

Star date: 2nd August 2011 

COUNCIL AXES LANCASTER HOUSE FUNDING DESPITE PROTESTS

After weeks of sustained campaigning, ending yesterday with a march through Salford, a noisy demo outside the Civic Centre and the handing over of an 8000 signature petition, Salford Council yesterday axed funding for Lancaster House, arguing that it meant "improved support for homeless".

Now campaigners are taking the fight to the High Court and vowing to stand against Councillor Peter Connor, Head of Salford Housing and Salford MP Hazel Blears at the next elections.

Full story here…


Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011
Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011
Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011
Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011 Lancaster House Protest March 1st August 2011
click image to enlarge

After a day of protests Salford Council announced that it was axing funding for Lancaster House and other facilities which support vulnerable homeless people in the city. The decision will result in a loss of 56 beds in Salford – but incredibly the Council put out a statement last night saying it will mean "improved support for the homeless".

The day began with a march by homeless people and their supporters from Lancaster House, on Lancaster Road, to the Civic Centre in Swinton where a noisy demo urged councillors to save the facility which provides accommodation and support for 38 single men.

Placards with slogans reading `8000 people supporting Lancaster House, time to listen Salford Council' and `£370,000 on BBC party, £0 on Homeless People of Salford' were waved, while speakers from trade union, UNISON, pledged support and Salford `super hero' Knight Warrior joined in. 

However, at the afternoon's Housing Lead Members Briefing - held behind closed doors with the press barred and a rep from Lancaster House allowed in only to hand over a petition – the decision was made by Councillor Peter Connor to axe funding for Lancaster House and other facilities for the homeless in the city.

Outside the Civic Centre, Emma Hampson, service manager at Lancaster House, said that both Positive Lifestyles, which runs the homeless support centre, and the service users themselves will be seeking a judicial review into the decision at the High Court.

"We're going to fight this to the bitter end" she said "I think it's terrible that they can put these cuts in place for the most vulnerable people in Salford, I think it's wrong.

"We're full, we've got a waiting list, we've spoken to the Winsdor drop in centre, which is a night shelter, and they're full with a waiting list too and they've said this will impact on them" she added "The Council are blaming it on the central Government cuts but at the end of the day they make the decision on where to make the cuts, and they're making the wrong decision because they're hitting the most vulnerable. We heard that the Council spent £370,000 to welcome the BBC to Salford. It's a huge waste of money - that would support places like Lancaster House for years."

Campaigners and users of Lancaster House were further incensed last night after Salford Council issued a press release with the spin "Improved Support for Homeless in Salford".

The press release stated that the Council had a new "radical plan to transform the way services are run", a "new model" which "looks at improving supported accommodation for single homeless people". It announced "a new flagship project in Pendleton" which will "help to provide services like this".

What the press release didn't say was that the new `flagship project' will only provide 20 beds for the homeless, when 76 are being lost. And Councillor Peter Connor, the Council's lead member for Housing makes it quite clear in his printed quotes that this is a cut…

"Due to Government spending reductions…the council has had to look even more critically at how a number of services, including those to the homeless, can be delivered in future years at less cost" he says "In light of this we have reviewed the whole 'homeless' sector, and working with partners have developed a new model for delivering support for single homeless people. This includes making a reduction in the number of traditional supported accommodation projects in which support is commissioned."

Peter Connor - who, we understand, had told a Lancaster House campaigner earlier in the day that the press was `exploiting' vulnerable homeless people -  adds in the release that "the review of the homeless sector was never about one project, and it is unfortunate that it has been presented, by some, in this way."

Connor's comments and the way the press release phrased the cuts angered David Allum, a resident at Lancaster House and a representative of service users.

"Everything that the council says it's trying to provide here, Lancaster House already supplies" he explained "We should also point out that the asset survey they mention did not cover all services in Salford but a select few - our survey consisted of ten minutes with a surveyor and that was it.

"The Council has not listened to reasonable argument and the Council has not listened to the people" he added "We will continue to fight this and the next step will be a judicial review in the High Courts. Lancaster House can prove that we are the best service in Salford and if the council didn't ignore three months of e-mails, as well as the £50,000 consultant they paid to evaluate us - who says we are up to scratch - then we would not be in this situation."

David says that he will stand against both Peter Connor and Salford MP, Hazel Blears, at the next elections.

"The fight will continue to save Lancaster House, and furthermore I can say `Connor, I am coming for you (politically)'… The system of Local Government is not at fault, it's the ill advised people inside it…"

The Salford Star asked Salford Council to explain how reducing 56 beds in the city for homeless people will lead to `improved services' but no-one was available for interview…

Read previous Salford Star articles on Lancaster House: Click here and click here  

Photos by itookyourpic.com

winston wrote
at 2:09:13 PM on Wednesday, August 10, 2011
elected lord mayor of salford, problem solved. as long as their not labour
 
Steven North wrote
at 3:37:35 PM on Saturday, August 6, 2011
If you want to help the Campaign please come along to the meeting to plan the nextb steps: Monday 8th August, 7PM, Salford City UNISON, 443-445 Chorley Road, Swinton, M27 9UQ Thanks
 
Just a thought.... wrote
at 9:49:30 PM on Thursday, August 4, 2011
Assuming Lancaster House was full at the time of closure (76 places according to the report) and only 20 beds are being provided in replacement, has the LA made arrangement for the rest of those not fortunate to get a bed at the new facility?
 
reita76 wrote
at 2:26:14 AM on Thursday, August 4, 2011
why oh why do we have the same old story here in Salford??? In May 2012 Peter Connor, David Lancaster, Derek Antrobus etc are all up for re election so the obvious answer is dont VOTE FOR THEM!!!! But im sorry to say it wont happen,if Hazel Blears was re elected by the good if naive electorate then what hope for getting rid of these cretins?....
 
TheChairman wrote
at 2:25:36 AM on Thursday, August 4, 2011
Justto confirm that Positive Lifestyles is a NON FOR PROFIT organisation...this is public information and this is obviously monitored.
 
ant wrote
at 8:15:53 AM on Wednesday, August 3, 2011
lANCASTER HOUSE IS ROUND THE CORNER FROM HAZELS.NIMBY
 
mike wrote
at 8:15:37 AM on Wednesday, August 3, 2011
Is anyone asking why the owners are so keen to keep this funding? Because its guaranteed money going to a private business to make profit. I guarantee that they'll be transferring this to Housing Benefit, but this is riskier for them as they have to do the work and make sure claims are paid. Don't agree with cuts. But do agree that the residents are being used here.
 
Brian Francis Kirkham wrote
at 7:54:40 AM on Tuesday, August 2, 2011
I'm going to put my response, in a similar fashion to my response on the arts funding cuts. Paying Consultants Vs Keeping a Roof over the heads of Salford's Homeless...Discuss. And while we're at it..just what improved provision are you providing salford's homeless? I've seen a lot of boosting council ego's with grandiose projects, let's get down to brass tacks - cut the waste and keep projects like this open.
 
Albert wrote
at 3:04:04 AM on Tuesday, August 2, 2011
If I were planning a dastardly deed, I too would hold my meetings in secret with my cohorts and quislings!
 
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