Hartlepool hostel to help problem drinkers OFF after residents’ campaign

General view of Melbourne House on Stockton Road in Hartlepool Picture: DAVID WOOD
General view of Melbourne House on Stockton Road in Hartlepool Picture: DAVID WOOD

Residents have spoken of their relief after a supported housing organisation changed its mind about wanting to set up a service for problem drinkers on their doorstep.

Sanctuary Supported Living had said it wanted to relocate its service for clients with alcohol issues from Grange Road, in Hartlepool, to former hotel Melbourne House, in Stockton Road.

DISPUTE: Evelyn Leck, Chair of the Stockton Road Area Residents Association (left) with local residents Julie Kelly, Matthew Ede, Elizabeth Kamara and Mary Landreth outside Melbourne House on Stockton Road in Hartlepool Picture: DAVID WOOD

DISPUTE: Evelyn Leck, Chair of the Stockton Road Area Residents Association (left) with local residents Julie Kelly, Matthew Ede, Elizabeth Kamara and Mary Landreth outside Melbourne House on Stockton Road in Hartlepool Picture: DAVID WOOD

But the proposal prompted objections from hundreds of residents and local businesses.

They said it was not the right location for such a service and worried about potential anti-social behaviour problems the Sanctuary’s clients could bring to the area.

But the organisation now says it is no longer considering Melbourne House as an option for the service relocation after it proved unsuitable for their needs.

Evelyn Leck, chairwoman of the Stockton Road Area Residents’ Association welcomed the news.

The Melbourne Hotel would not offer suitable facilities for the services we offer

Sanctuary spokesman

But she remained cautious until knowing what Melbourne House will be used for instead.

Mrs Leck said: “I think it’s good, but it’s a case of watch this space with caution. We have got to keep our eye on the ball because we don’t know what’s around the corner.”

She and fellow resident Mary Landreth said they wanted Melbourne House to be used as a training opportunity for young people, as previously intended by owners Hartlepool NDC Trust –which spent £300,0000 of public money renovating the hotel.

Mrs Landreth said: “It was meant to be used by catering students. The campaign wasn’t just about the Melbourne, it was to stop what we see as the misuse of public funds.”

Sanctuary says it is still looking for an alternative place and will work with councillors and residents.

A spokesman said: “We are a client-centred service and deliver both housing and support to those who need it.

“The Melbourne Hotel would not offer suitable facilities for the services we offer and we are committed to working with local councillors and residents to meet the needs of local vulnerable adults.”

The decision has also been welcomed by Hartlepool Borough Council leader, Councillor Christopher Akers-Belcher.

The council agreed to get involved after hearing of the residents’ concerns at the last full council meeting.

Following news of Sanctuary’s withdrawal, Coun Akers-Belcher said: “I welcome this decision by Sanctuary following my motion to full council last week – this once again demonstrates that the council is very responsive to the needs of the residents it represents.

“I would also request that as and when Sanctuary identifies premises which it feels are more appropriate to the needs of the people who use its services, any such decision on that relocation takes into full account the views of the neighbouring residents.”

The council commissioned Sanctuary to provide the service after awarding the tender last year.

A spokesman for Hartlepool NDC Trust said: “The Trust are open to anyone to come forward with ideas.We have had a number of interested parties and will be speaking to these parties over the next few weeks.

“If anybody else wants to come forward with a proposal, we are happy to listen as well.”