Wigan borough MP steps into care home row

A borough MP says she will quiz a care firm over its controversial plans to open a care unit for young people in a quiet cul-de-sac.

Friday, 18th October 2019, 11:54 am
The property on Townfield Avenue

Residents of Townfield Avenue in Ashton were left outraged by plans from Cygnet Health Care to convert a three-bedroom semi-detached property into a secure unit, saying that the redevelopment has already created a large disturbance in their quiet street, and that approving the plan will set a precedent for similar developments across the borough.

The residents have also raised issues about Cygnet’s operations, citing several criticisms of the firm including a recent BBC investigation involving reports of staff abusing vulnerable adults in their care.

More than 30 objections have been lodged on Wigan Council’s online planning portal, and the residents group has now been given a boost in their campaign after their MP Yvonne Fovargue stepped in.

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Ms Fovargue, MP for Makerfield, said: “I have asked the local authority to take into account the concerns and objections of constituents who have contacted me on this matter and I am in the process of arranging a meeting with Cygnet to discuss residents’ concerns.”

Cygnet said it was aware of the residents’ concerns but was keen to maintain “good relationships locally”.

A statement from the St Oswald’s Estate Residents Group, which was set up to voice the collective concerns of neighbours, said: “The care unit will require staff to work shifts and, inevitably, there will be disturbances at all times of the day.

“It is unfair to expect residents to have a business of this type in an adjoining property forced upon them as it fundamentally alters the composition of the area from residential to commercial.

“As far as disturbance and quality of life of residents being affected; it’s a case of when and how much, rather than if.

“Setting a precedent for a development of this type in a quiet residential area is worrying and should be of concern to other Wigan residents.”

A spokesperson from Cygnet Health Care said: “The planning application submitted for this new residential home is intended to provide much needed care for two vulnerable young people who require the safety and support that is offered within a residential care setting. Maintaining good relationships locally is a priority. We are always conscious of our neighbours and our surrounding environment and we are committed to working as a part of the community.

“We are aware that concerns have been raised by local residents and will be engaging with the community over the coming weeks to address any queries they may have.

“Cygnet has been providing a national network of high-quality, specialised services for over 30 years in partnership with the NHS and local authorities. We are privileged to look after children to help make a positive difference for their lives.

“With more than 140 services, of which 85 per cent are rated good or outstanding, our facilities provide vital support for children and adults in communities across the UK, including in the North West.”

Full details of the planning proposals can be viewed at planning.wigan.gov.uk using the code A/19/87649/CU