RESIDENTS are fighting back after the council agreed a controversial homeless shelter could be erected in their neighbourhood without consulting them.
Residents are rallying round after a 150-strong public meeting on Monday in which Cheshire West and Chester Council was slammed for failing to consult over the conversion of Richmond Court near Hoole Lane bridge into a homeless facility.
The council recently awarded its homeless contract to Chester and District Housing Trust and Forum Housing Association to deliver improved en suite accommodation for clients.
Last night residents were gathering in the Spital Vaults pub near the site to organise a campaign including a petition.
Resident Peter Menkin, who lives in Alma Street close to Richmond Court, said: “We are absolutely furious. I couldn’t get to the meeting but one of my neighbours went and apparently it’s all done and dusted. There has been no consultation, nothing.
“I have no objection to them finding somewhere for the homeless but this is near schools and is a main thoroughfare right by the canal.”
Neville Sidebottom, co-owner of the Artichoke bar and restaurant in Boughton, described the imposition of the shelter as ‘an affront to democracy’ and accused the Tory-led authority of ‘horrific levels of arrogance’.
He said: “If people have a right to be consulted about somebody building a new garage people should have the right to know about plans to move a homeless shelter into their community.”
Despite being Boughton ward councillor, Labour member David Robinson only found out about what was happening a few days ago and insisted the issue be placed on the city area forum agenda.
“This is CWaC at its worst,” said the councillor.
Fellow Labour councillor Bob Rudd (Garden Quarter) is chairman of Chester Aid to the Homeless, which has run homeless services for 40 years but has been ditched by the council.
Cllr Rudd, who chaired the area forum and used to represent Boughton, believes homeless facilities should be in the city centre where other services are based. And he accepts the public may become fearful of using the towpath, which leads to the shelter, because some homeless people do have issues with drink, drugs and mental illness.
“You can feel intimidated,” he said.
Following concerns, consultation meetings are now taking place next week at Chester Music Theatre (formerly Tarvin Road Methodist Church), opposite Bill Smith Motors, on Monday at 7pm and on Wednesday, July 18, at 2pm.
Council spokesman Ian Callister said: “Until we had appointed the providers, the consultation process couldn’t be started. And once they had been appointed we had this meeting and now we are having further meetings to discuss the residents’ concerns in detail.”