A former Southport hotel will be converted to provide supported housing for homeless people.
Merseyside charity and SSHG member New Start, put forward plans for what was the Club House Hotel on Leicester Street after seeing a rise in people in the region falling on hard times during the Covid-19 pandemic, reports the Liverpool Echo. Sefton Council’s planning chiefs have given the project green-light, but for a 12-month trial period, only. The plans were recommended for a full approval, but during today’s planning meeting, concerns were raised over antisocial behaviour.
A petition against the plans, signed by 48 people, suggested since the hostel began operating, there has been a “spike in illegal drug dealing, people urinating, and public nuisance” in the area. However, Merseyside Police said there were two recorded call outs in May and three in June of this year, but none since then, and raised no objection to the project.
Cllr Bob McCann said he was in “two minds” over the proposal. He said: “Police reports are not indicative, as you don’t always report your neighbours.
“If you live somewhere, calling the police is a last resort.” But New Start said they were alerted to objections in late August, and were “surprised”, as the “issues raised were not in keeping with the behaviours of residents”. Since then, the charity has written to all Leicester Street residents with information about the work they do, and direct contact details for their area manager with “reassurance we will welcome and quickly deal with any concerns”.
Cllr Waterfield said: “This application is, for all intents and purposes, trying to do something for people, and to help people. At the end of the day, if people aren’t reporting anti-social behaviour to the police, they can’t expect us to take their word that there is an anti-social behaviour problem.”
In their application, New Start said: “New Start currently operates an existing temporary accommodation service for homeless people at Leyland Road, Southport and has done so since July 2015. Our work at Leyland Road led the local authority to contact New Start in March this year for help to provide emergency temporary accommodation solutions for homeless people during the lockdown period associated with Vovid-19. The Government had issued a directive to all Local Authorities to close night shelters, which operated on a shared space basis, and to accommodate all rough sleepers and those at risk of rough sleeping. Lockdown has resulted in a significant increase in homelessness, further highlighting the need for more temporary accommodation for homeless people.”
The 19-bed hostel will be staffed by a minimum of three members of staff of core staff and a Manager Monday to Friday during the day (8am to 6pm) with a minimum of two staff at all other times. Sefton Council’s planning committee will review the service this time next year.