THE owner of a care home that was saved from closure is travelling to Westminster with an 8,000-signature petition to lobby the Goverment over its funding of elderly care.

Barry Parvin, who owns the Graceland Care Home in Guisborough, will join a group of protestors meeting Health Minister Stephen Ladyman.

In September last year, Mr Parvin made the controversial decision to close his private care home because, he said, there was not enough Government funding to help pay for staff.

Following the announcement, an 8,000-signature petition was collected against the closure and campaigners held a march through Guisborough. Concerned relatives of residents living in the home also lobbied Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council about the funding issue.

Mr Parvin said: "This came as a bombshell to relatives of residents at the home as well as many others with connections to Graceland.

"Following lots of hard work from Graceland and many other outside bodies, the notice of closure was withdrawn in December."

Langbaurgh Primary Care Trust gave the care home a contract for 40 nursing beds but Mr Parvin has warned this contract is not sufficient to pay his staff the same rate as council-employed workers carrying out a similar job.

Mr Parvin said: "I feel strongly about the equality in pay and it for this reason I intend to fight on."

Mr Parvin will be joined in Westminister on Monday by MPs and other care home owners, to highlight the crisis within the private care sector.

Middlesbrough South and East Cleveland MP Ashok Kumar said: "This issue, which has been a live one for some time, came to a head when Mr Parvin announced that he may have to close his doors if he did not get a better financial fee deal from the local social services department and the local NHS primary care trust.

"Thankfully, diligent work by the two public agencies has averted that closure actually happening."

Maurice Bates, director of health and social care at Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council, will represent the council and the area's two primary care trusts at the meeting.

The chief executive of Age Concern, Dave Punshon, and representatives from the borough's independent care home providers will also attend