Officers won’t attend meeting over hostel

County councillor David Wiliams

County councillor David Wiliams

First published in News thisisoxfordshire: Photograph of the Author by , Council Reporter, also covering Oxford city centre. Call me on 01865 425429

RESIDENTS frustrated by antisocial behaviour at an Oxford hostel have been told no council officers will attend a meeting about the issue.

People living at the One Foot Forward hostel in Iffley Road have been accused of “hanging around” outside the building. There have been complaints from residents in the area about being intimidated and sworn at, property being vandalised and needles being put through letterboxes.

County councillor David Williams wants to hold a public meeting to air these concerns, but was told by a senior colleague council officers would not be there.

He said: “Seven people came with me to visit the officers at the Town Hall but there are hundreds of people in the area who are concerned about this and they want to know something is being done.

“They want a public statement to say these issues are being addressed.

“There has been a history of confrontation and that is not good for the residents or the people who live at the hostel.”

But Mr Williams was told by Melinda Tilley, the cabinet member for children, education and families, that her department was “not willing to be a party” to any public meeting he organised.

In an email exchange, he was told the service was curently being reviewed and as such the council did not want to prejudice the outcome.

In March, the county council announced the service would be going out to tender. It hopes new services will start from 2015.

County council spokesman Paul Smith said: “The county council does not have the power of veto over the arrangement of public meetings on any topic.

“We are very much aware of the concerns of local residents, and senior managers recently met some of those residents along with their local county councillor.

“We are in the process of re-commissioning contracts for young people’s supported housing – including the One Foot Forward project – with a view to new services starting from April 2015. The tender is due to go out later this month.”

An online petition has been set up calling for the hostel to be closed. It has been signed by more than 200 people.

One Foot Forward is run by Bournemouth-based BCHA and has a total of 21 spaces for young single homeless people aged between 16 and 24.

A spokesperson for BCHA said: “If there are any areas of concern raised with us about One Foot Forward, we work very closely with our partners and commissioners to do whatever we can to find solutions to help local residents understand each other and live together in the local community.”

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