Residents take to streets in hostel protest

ANGRY residents took to the streets to protest against plans to open a homeless hostel on their doorstep.

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Residents took to the streets to protest at the homeless hostel
Residents took to the streets to protest at the homeless hostel

Around 50 people living near Burnbank Gardens, in the West End, protested outside Maryhill Central Halls yesterday afternoon in response to the council's plan to change a home for elderly residents into a facility to house up to 40 homeless men.

Locals carried placards which read: "No to hostel for 40 men" and shouted "No" during the protest, which took place as an information session about the development was being held inside the hall.

Members of Burnbank Action Group, which organised the protest, say the hostel will accommodate men with alcohol and drug dependency problems, as well as former prisoners.

Sue Mackechnie, 60, lives on Holyrood Crescent, opposite the site, and said: "It is a badly thought out, with no warning.

"We found out about it by accident.

"Flanking the building are two block of flats with elderly residents, housing association houses with many vulnerable people and also young families.

"Somebody was in tears coming up here because she is so nervous and terrified about what might happen. This is genuine fear."

As reported in the Evening Times, more than 100 residents attended a meeting last week to voice their concerns about the plans.

Residents say they were never consulted about the council's intentions and fear the development could prove a serious risk to the many vulnerable and elderly people in the area.They also think it could create a "no-go" zone, deterring friends and family from visiting them.

MSP Sandra White, who is backing the campaign to stop the development, said: "It's not NIMBY-ism here. We have a lot of special housing projects in this area, but this is one too many.

"Forty single men who have their own problems are being put in an area which is predominantly elderly people, It's not practical to put it here.

"I had an ex-offender come to see me, and even he said he wouldn't stay in a hostel of that size. He said it would be detrimental to him and not helpful at all."

There are concerns that the facility would not be of use to the homeless men it would be accommodating, due to the fact the centre is not purpose-built and would house so many people.

Local resident Derek Walker, 34, said: "Those facilities are not purpose-built for 40 men.

"I have spoken to other people who have been homeless in the past and their issue is that they wouldn't go there, it's not going to help."

Henry Simpson, 65, who is disabled and blind, said he is worried about being attacked, adding: "This is a lunatic idea.

"It will be dangerous for everyone, and some of the local shops have said they will shut if this goes ahead."

Residents say the area already has an problem with anti-social behaviour, and police are regularly called out when people are found drinking in public or entering people's closes without permission.

Council bosses say the hostel will be properly supervised by staff and have strong links to police and community safety services.

A council spokesman added that the city has a "duty to provide accommodation for people affected by homelessness" and said they hoped the information session would give people reassurance.

hannah.rodger@ eveningtimes.co.uk

Local government

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