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Fury over planned supported living facility

Furious residents in a Walsall area beset with problems have raised fears over a proposed facility for vulnerable people opening up there.

Wednesbury Road residents, church and mosque members and local traders are against plans to convert a property into a supported living facility

People on Wednesbury Road believe the plan by Aspire Supported Living to convert the former Black Country Saddlery building into 17 flats amounts to ‘social dumping’ in an area which has a number of hostels, a refuge, traveller transit site and drug rehab centre within a mile of each other.

The unrest over the application, which has been submitted to Walsall Council planners, has prompted them to set up a campaign group against it.

In their application, Aspire said the tenants would be low risk and not people with “drug addictions”.

But the proposal has still caused unrest locally with people concerned it could add to issues such as crime, anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

Some said as well as a number of violent incidents which have taken place in the vicinity in recent weeks, the property is around half a mile from where Akeem Francis Kerr was stabbed to death in Valesha’s nightclub.

The campaign group consists of residents, local business owners, a mosque and two churches and is supported by ward councillors.

Member Karl Moseley said: “Enough is enough. We already have the Glebe Centre, YMCA hostels, a Big Help hostel, a traveller transit site, drug rehabilitation centre, a probation centre and a domestic violence refuge all within a one mile stretch of one another.

“For an area that has battled against organised criminal activity, drug use and historic issues with prostitution, to seriously expect vulnerable people to be rehabilitated here is completely bonkers.”

Another resident said: “There is “social dumping” taking place and that facilities that would not get approval in more affluent parts of the borough appear to be continually enforced on poorer ward areas such as Palfrey, which recently appeared within the top 10 most deprived ward areas within the entire Black Country.”

Ward Councillor Sabina Ditta said: “This proposal will negatively impact our area which is already suffering from issues of anti-social behaviour, crime and fly-tipping.

“Residents of Wednesbury Road have inadequate parking and this will lead to more issues as there is no dedicated parking outlined in their application for support staff.”

Aspire said staff will be on site round the clock to provide assistance, adding the facility would provide much needed benefits to those who are struggling.

They said: “We at Aspire Living provide supported accommodation to the disadvantaged within our society.

“Offering our residents exemplary living standards and providing a safe environment are at the core of our ethos.

“It is therefore imperative, that the quality of our accommodation meets the residents needs and blends in seamlessly with the local community.

“Our locations are carefully selected near to amenities and transport, supporting social inclusion.

“Quality ultimately determines outcomes, leading to individuals experiencing better outcomes. This then leads to successful independent living and less reliance on public services and local councils.

“With reference to this location, the apartments are to be finished to a high standard, with careful attention to style, space and lighting.

“Safeguarding residents is another key component of our success. All staff, including operatives who visit supported housing schemes, receive a comprehensive induction which includes monthly training programmes.

“Our supported living sites are staffed 24hrs a day, together with external CCTV. We offer on-site assisted living to our tenants, all of which undergo a PSA (Property Selection Assessment).

“Any residents failing to meet our standards are refused progression into the system. We have a strict policy against housing ex-offenders or those with drug/alcohol addictions.”

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