Street councillors speak in defence of YMCA hostel plans
CIVIC leaders in Street have come out in defence of the YMCA planned for the High Street.
Speaking at the last parish council meeting, Councillor Lloyd Hughes said too many people were complaining about the facility "before a brick has been laid."
"It is completely uncalled for," he said. "It seems there are a number of people who have got it in for them."
The YMCA was given permission to turn the old Pinera shop and workshops and land behind the building in the High Street into a centre providing short-term emergency accommodation for young people aged 16 to 25.
The charity faced a lengthy battle to win planning permission, which was turned down twice, before being granted at an appeal in March this year.
Those living near to the proposed development have voiced concerns about the potential for antisocial behaviour from those who will be living in the facility - concerns that some councillors believe are unfair.
PC Kevin Stoodley said he had worked in Shepton Mallet and Wells, where there were also YMCA facilities.
"There are problems," he said.
"But they can be managed.
"At this point, we don't know who is going to be living there, and we hope to be able to build a good relationship between us, the YMCA and the young people who will be staying there."
Mr Hughes said people were assuming that those who would be living in the building were all troublemakers.
His sentiments were echoed by Councillor Bryan Beha, who said there were already estates in Street suffering from antisocial behaviour.
"People are using the behaviour of those people as a stick to beat the YMCA with," he said.
Martin Hodgson from Mendip YMCA said they provided support to vulnerable people and called on the community not to vilify them.
He said there would be staff on the Street premises from 8am through to 4am.
"Some of these young people have experienced domestic violence, from their homes, and their community, so they may require police support from time to time," he said.
He added that bad behaviour often came from a single individual, having difficulty adapting to a life away from violence.
"We offer them a shared plan to independence," he said.
"There will be obstacles on the way to independence, but in most cases, no more than that seen in most families with teenagers growing up."