Neighbours’ fears return after fracas at homeless hostel

LONG-STANDING concerns over a hostel for homeless young people in London Road flared up again last weekend when police turned out in force to deal with a disturbance there.

Although it was the first such incident for some months, neighbours were appalled and demands have again been made for the premises - run by Worcester-based Sanctuary Housing - to be closed down.

The hostel has a history of anti-social behaviour stretching back over a decade, and for people living nearby Saturday night’s incident sparked a fresh wave of outrage that such a facility should be in their midst.

One neighbour described those who live there as “a bunch of hooligans” and said: “This abysmal hostel has heaped misery on the local area for too long now on a regular and consistent basis, yet the council does not care one jot about its law-abiding citizens, only the yobs.”

Bexhill Police confirmed that around a dozen officers had responded to reports of trouble after the first patrol on the scene called for back-up. Later, Sergeant Dan Russell, said: “Two people have been arrested and charged with criminal damage.”

But he added: “In the last few months this was an isolated incident. Regular meetings are held between management, police and local people and together with Rother District Council discussions have taken place to try to resolve the issues complained of.”

Rother’s member for housing, Cllr Bob White, said: “The council does not play any part in the management of the hostel, but does refer homeless young people to the organisation. We’re concerned to hear what’s happened and have offered help and support to Sanctuary Housing and the police.”

Cllr White added: “Currently the hostel only accepts people from Rother, but the decision has been made by the council that it is allowed to take homeless young people from across East Sussex. That option has not been taken up at the present time.”

Ron Daly, manager of the Bexhill supported living scheme, said: “We accommodate young people from the local community who, with our support, are moving towards living independently and making a positive contribution to society.

“The incident in question involved just one resident and a non-resident and is being dealt with seriously. By far the norm at Bexhill are the young people we see on a daily basis who despite difficult starts in life are overcoming obstacles to turn their lives around.

“The scheme has undergone a management restructure in the last four months and since then we have had no incidents of concern until now.

“Our residents are keen to engage with their community and during the summer organised a successful open day which was supported by the local neighbourhood.

“Many of them also attend college and do voluntary work and we ask individuals not to misjudge them based on an isolated event.”

A Sanctuary spokesman added that the incident was thought to have occurred at roughly the same time as a separate and unrelated domestic disturbance nearby, which may have accounted for the number of police present.