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From The Socialist newspaper, 24 May 2017

Labour council's threat to children's care centre

Fight for legal no-cuts budgets

Parents confront Salford's Labour councillors photo Becci Heagney

Parents confront Salford's Labour councillors photo Becci Heagney   (Click to enlarge)

Paul Gerrard, Chair, Salford Against the Cuts

The campaign is on to save the Grange, the only residential home for disabled children in Salford. Parents of children in the home have petitioned and lobbied the council, and have now called a protest meeting for 27 May.

Four years ago there was another battle over the Grange. At the time it was a valued respite centre for disabled children, and the Labour council wanted to transfer the children to an adult facility.

The council argued at the time that several disabled children were being treated in expensive private facilities outside Salford and that bringing them back into the city would be beneficial.

Parents in the 'Save the Grange' campaign, with the full support of the Salford branch of public service union Unison, and the 'Salford Against the Cuts' campaign, argued to keep the facility as it was. However the then Mayor, Ian Stewart, bulldozed the decision through, disparaging parents as a 'rent-a-crowd'!

Now, four years later, the council is standing on its head and saying the children currently in the Grange will have to go into expensive private provision, most probably outside Salford. The number of children currently in the home is small, but there is demand from parents to place their children there.

The new mayor, Paul Dennett, is a declared supporter of Jeremy Corbyn. Despite this, the council under his leadership has passed on 16 million of Tory cuts in the latest budget. But he is clearly reluctant to make this particular cut, estimated to save 300,000.

Parents, Unison and Salford Against the Cuts lobbied the council at the budget meeting in February, and new facts came to light. Paul Dennett promised to look at the issue again.

At the 2017 May Day rally, parents again lobbied the mayor - and MP Rebecca Long-Bailey, one of the few Labour MPs who has consistently supported Jeremy Corbyn.

Greater Manchester metro-mayor Andy Burnham even had a photo opportunity with Grange parents as part of his election campaign. He said that "to move children out of the borough is unacceptable."

Now, however, there is to be a 'consultation' on closure.

While recognising the strength of his commitment to opposing Tory-imposed austerity, we are disappointed that Jeremy Corbyn hasn't taken a firmer line against local government cuts by Labour councils.

The Socialist Party has argued for legal no-cuts budgets, and a joint campaign by Labour councils and trade unions to win back resources. Salford City Council - like other Labour councils - has wrongly chosen a different road.

Socialist Party members hope to see Corbyn enter 10 Downing Street on 9 June. Yet his promise to deliver for the most vulnerable is undermined when Labour councils cut vital services for those very people.

Labour must oppose austerity in all its forms. We call on Paul Dennett and Salford City Council not to close the Grange.

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