RESIDENTS fighting a homeless shelter they feel is being dumped on their community have declared war on Cheshire West and Chester Council.
More than 100 angry locals packed a meeting where bosses from CWaC, Chester & District Housing Trust and Forum Housing Association heard insults bandied such as ‘gormless’ and ‘incompetent’.
Residents object to opening a 36-bed hostel at Richmond Court, Boughton, without any consultation as part of a borough-wide homeless contract won by the housing providers.
They are now threatening the Tory council with legal action because of concerns including:
Dangers for children of having drunks, drug addicts and potential sex offenders in the area
Round-the-clock disturbance as homeless people come and go
Fears for towpath users
No research on the suitability of CDHT’s empty canalside site for vulnerable clients
Neighbouring houses becoming unsaleable
En suite facilities attracting more homeless to Chester.
The meeting, organised by the housing associations in response to concerns, was informed there will be an extra six emergency beds used by homeless people picked up in the night by a 24-hour mini-bus.
Resident Ben Roberts, who received rapturous applause, said: “Residents of Boughton and Hoole are currently trying to seek a consultation to go via a judicial review to get the decision quashed.”
Accusing the council of breaching its own policies, he said the grounds were unfairness, lack of consultation and failing to consider residents’ human rights.
CWaC’s representative Alistair Jeffs said the contract had been awarded on a legal basis but conceded ‘there may be grounds for challenging it’.
The new regime aims to improve homeless accommodation standards as well as reducing the council bill from £1.2m to £850,000, partly by cutting the number of emergency beds.
Local people will be prioritised by providing permanent homes and jobs and the firms will ‘repatriate’ homeless people from outside the area.
Chris Allen, chief executive of Forum Housing, who accused some residents of stereotyping the homeless, was sorry details of the scheme had leaked out before it could be explained.
She said: “We wanted very much to meet with residents. We didn’t expect it would be in this way.”