MP demands explanation about Blackett Court closure
HOUSING bosses looking to close down a popular Northumberland sheltered homes scheme have been told to explain their decision to an MP.
Hexham MP Guy Opperman is seeking a meeting with the chairman of the housing group planning to close down Blackett Court in Wylam.
Mr Opperman has written to Aman Dalvi, chairman of Anchor Housing Association, asking for a “detailed explanation” of the reasons for closure.
All but five residents of the 34-year-old flats in the heart of the Tyne Valley village have been moved out, but most of the remainder want to stay put.
Anchor says Blackett Court needs too many repairs to be viable, and that there is no alternative to closure.
But the fate of Blackett Court has now turned into a cause celebre in the picturesque village as tenants and residents unite to try to save the complex.
Last night Mr Opperman told The Journal: “I have visited Blackett Court and totally endorse the strong opposition to the proposed closure.
“I have invited the chairman of Anchor Housing to come to the House of Commons so I can sit down with him and make clear the opposition to his proposed closure.
“The possible demise of Blackett Court would be sorely felt in Wylam, where it is a vital institution, and we should be doing everything possible to try to ensure it stays open.”
Residents say Anchor’s claims that excessive repairs are required are out of order and that only a number of window frames need repair – a stance Mr Opperman backs. He said: “I have examined several of the bedrooms and they are perfectly satisfactory. I would appreciate a detailed explanation as to why the closure must go ahead. And further, I would like to know if there is scope for a change of mind.”
The land was donated to Help The Aged by trustees of The Blackett Trust which administered the estate of the late Squire Blackett, and villagers feel the spirit of the legacy was for the elderly and needy of the area to be permanently catered for.
The £132,000 cost of building Blackett Court in the 1970s was met by a loan from the former Tynedale Council and a bequest from the Blackett estate.
Anchor took over the land and the main building, Brewery House, when Help The Aged became a charity in 1976.
Anchor has pledged that any revenue from a sale will be ploughed back into “quality care of elderly people”. It was unavailable for comment last night.