Council’s house for homeless moves one step closer

West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001
West Suffolk House, St Edmundsbury ANL-141216-142053001
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Plans to transform a Bury St Edmunds bed and breakfast into a emergency accommodation for homeless families and pregnant women has moved a step forward.

St Edmundsbury Borough Council’s development control committee met on Thursday, approving a change of use application for Abbotts House on Newmarket Road which will allow the council to put in a bid to buy it.

The council had previously used the privately-owned B&B to accommodate a number of homeless people although they had no say in who should live there.

The recent plans have been met with fierce opposition from neighbours who say previous residents at the B&B have been a nuisance, have led to the police being called out and have no long-term investment in the community.

Speaking at the meeting, Michael Barker said that current residents at Abbotts House “loiter around the area, smoking and drinking and using foul language”.

“The question you have to ask yourself is would you like a similar facility next door or opposite your home,” he said.

Minden Ward Councillor Robert Everitt, who abstained from the vote, said: “It is a nice part of the town but in the past it has had problems with the clientele when it was a B&B.

“I think the neighbours around the property are really concerned about what is likely to happen in the future and quite rightly so.”

St Edmundsbury Housing Officer Tony Hobby said as the house would be properly managed, with an “extremely tight” tenancy agreement and round-the-clock CCTV, disturbances at the site would be reduced.

Councillor Paula Fox said it was unfair to brand homeless people as anti-social.

She said: “I had to live in homeless accommodation once for one reason or another - I am not a druggy, I am not a drinker, I am not anti-social and my dad would be devastated to think people thought we were like that because we were homeless.”

A number of councillors stated they thought a warden should live at the house while it accepted new tenants.

Following the meeting, resident Margaret Coulson, who lives next door, said she was unhappy with the decision.
“They seem to think we are unsympathetic but it has been five or six years of this now and we’ve just had enough of it.”