A NURSING home threatened with closure has disputed claims it is running at a profit.

A protest march will be held tomorrow against the closure of Graceland Nursing Home, Guisborough, which would leave 51 residents without homes and about 60 staff without jobs.

Barry Parvin, proprietor of Graceland, who announced at the end of September that the home would close on November 28, has blamed the situation on staffing problems.

He said Redcar and Cleveland Borough Council and the Langbaurgh Primary Care Trust were not paying enough money for him to pay his staff above the minimum wage.

But the council, which is responsible for 14 of the residents, while the remaining 37 are looked after by Langbaurgh PCT, claims the home is making a £52,000 a year profit.

Coun Valerie Halton, cabinet member for social services, also said the home had had a 24 per cent increase in payments over the past two years.

"We believe Mr Parvin wants to sell the home to developers," she said.

"We think he is going to close the home come what may."

Derrick Langley, whose 84-year-old mother-in-law is in the home, said the profit was made - but between April 2002 and 2003.

Speaking on behalf of Mr Parvin, he said: "Even if that profit wasn't from a year-and-a-half ago, Mr Parvin would be left in excess of £100,000 in the red if he paid his staff the £7 an hour which staff in council-run nursing homes get.

"He can't afford to pay more than the minimum wage."

A spokesman from Langbaurgh PCT said that the trust was working tirelessly with the council and the owners to help keep the home open.

"However, we are gravely concerned by the possibility that the decision to close is based around a property deal, when the focus must be on the welfare of the residents," he said.

The protest march will start at 10am from the coach car park on Rectory Lane, Guisborough, and will go up Chaloner Street to the Market Cross.