Heated meeting over plans to house addicts and offenders in former Hartlepool bakery

Residents gather at a meeting at Belle Vue Community Centre to hear about proposals to turn a former bakery into social housing which could house recovering alcoholics and ex-drug addicts.
Residents gather at a meeting at Belle Vue Community Centre to hear about proposals to turn a former bakery into social housing which could house recovering alcoholics and ex-drug addicts.

A HEATED meeting has taken place over fears ex-offenders, drug addicts or alcoholics could be housed in a former bakery earmarked for social housing.

Almost 100 residents living in the Foggy Furze area of Hartlepool gathered at Belle Vue Community Centre in Kendal Road to hear more on proposed plans for the future of the former Anderson’s bakery.

Campaigner Darren Price said residents are forging ahead with plans to fight the proposals for the site on the corner of Windermere Road and Ashgrove Avenue, with a petition already gaining 600 signatures.

Drug and alcohol charity Developing Initiatives and Supporting Communities (DISC) aims to turn the bakery into social housing, with charity chiefs saying previously the facility could be used by a range of different people, but “potentially for ex-offenders or recovering addicts”.

Hartlepool Borough Council chiefs say an application has been submitted but more information is needed before it is validated.

Residents say they are not against the conversion of the former bakery into flats, but against those proposed to be moved in.

Mr Price, a member of Putting Hartlepool First, who lives in nearby Kathleen Street, said: “They plan to build four self-contained flats.

“As far as I know they will be supervised by a case worker.”

One man said: “They can’t monitor these people 24/7. It’s who they are going to be putting in that’s the problem. We really don’t want it.”

Another resident added: “Why would you put recovering alcoholics in a place with three pubs and two social clubs?”

Labour councillor for Foggy Furze Kevin Cranney, who was at the meeting along with Coun Kaylee Sirs said representatives from DISC would be attending a ward surgery to speak to residents and answer questions.

He added: “I have contacted DISC and they have no idea what sort of people are going to be in them and until the application is validated they are just rumours.

“The fact is nothing has been validated yet and nothing has been decided.”

Speaking after the meeting, Mr Price said: “I was hoping this many people would turn up, but I didn’t expect it. But I am glad they did as it shows the level of feeling people have. We have now over 600 names on a petition against the proposals. I will be here next week to hear what DISC have to say.”

Representatives from DISC will be at the ward surgery at Belle Vue Community Centre on Saturday, November 8, from 10am until noon.