Residents vent anger at more care centres

Public meeting:Insp Louise Ainsworth, MP Paul Maynard (below) and Coun Fred Jackson (below) heard residents' concerns
Public meeting:Insp Louise Ainsworth, MP Paul Maynard (below) and Coun Fred Jackson (below) heard residents' concerns
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Frustrated residents in North Shore called a public meeting after claiming they have had enough of converted properties being used to house former offenders and people in drug rehabilitation.

But while neighbours say crime in the area has escalated in recent months, police insist they have no record of a spike, or offences directly related to the 

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

Paul Maynard-MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys.

More than 100 residents met with their MP Paul Maynard, police and council officers at a public meeting in St Stephens On The Cliffs Church after an application was submitted for a drug rehabilitation centre to be opened on Knowle Avenue.

In recent years, residents say properties once used as care homes for the elderly have been bought and changed to use as care homes for children and teenagers, people in drug rehab or those just out of detention.

Insp Louise Ainsworth said: “On the back of community fear of this property opening on Knowle Avenue, residents did bring up concerns about the other care homes.

“Community concern was about the saturation point of these homes.

Coun Fred Jackson

Coun Fred Jackson

“You do get children from troubled families in these homes so there are going to be some problems but just because police are at the home it doesn’t mean a crime has been committed.

“The police have a really good relationship with these homes and hostels.”

Insp Ainsworth added: “There’s no dramatic increase in crime and there’s no direct correlation in crime or anti-social behaviour around where the HMOs, homes or hostels are, unless they are not being reported.”

But resident Andy Houghton, 57, who lives on Holmefield Road, said: “People aired concerns about different homes opening up.

“There seems to be a concentration for drug rehabilitation, halfway houses or children’s homes.

“We’re never consulted on them. They’re really upsetting the area.”

There were 112 reports of anti-social behaviour in the area between April and July this year, compared to 104 in the same period last year and 110 in 2012, official figures show.

Between April and July this year there have been nine burglaries, compared to six in the same period in 2013 and seven in 2012.

While there have been more shed and garage break-ins, 24 in that period in 2014, compared to seven in 2013 and 14 in 2012, police have said half of these were on buildings that were not secured.

Paul Maynard, Conservative MP for Blackpool North and Cleveleys, attended the meeting after hearing of residents’ concerns.

By law, landlords do not need planning permission for a change of use of former care homes shifting from one type of care to another.

Mr Maynard said: “There was a desire to understand the planning process.

“People want to know how they (the homes) can be regulated and what grounds they have for opposing them.

“The vast majority of people understood there is a need for these types of facilities.”

Planning officers from the council and ward councillors were also at the meeting.

Town hall bosses have recently approved the conversion of a property on Queens Promenade for use as a care centre for people with substance misuse problems.

The application was given the green light for an “experienced” Care Quality Commission provider.

Coun Fred Jackson, Blackpool Council cabinet member for urban regeneration, said: “There are also other properties which have converted to similar uses without needing to involve us.

“I would urge residents, if they have evidence of anything illegal taking place, to report it to the police and raise any planning concerns with our officers.”

A residents’ association is now being set up in the area.