More than £7,000, which should have been spent housing the homeless, has been used to provide security staff at Calvert’s Hotel in Quay Street, Newport.
The information was revealed by the Isle of Wight Council which has been renting the hotel out to provide emergency accommodation for the homeless. A spokesman initially claimed the extra security was ‘an interim measure to allow for building modifications’, but changed his response when told uniformed security staff had been seen in the building as late as 10pm, admitting it was due to ‘an incident involving staff and a member of the public’.
Around £7,500 has been used from a government grant to fund security staff for 24 days whilst the door entry system was upgraded. The council spokesman said the purpose of the grant was ‘to protect and support some of our most vulnerable citizens; citizens that would otherwise be faced with no other options than to sleep rough’.
Local residents say emergency services frequently attend the premises, but the Isle of Wight Council say they keep no records of how many times they have been called out since it has been used as emergency accommodation. However there have been at least seven court cases since the beginning of this year for offences committed in the building or by people giving it as their address. They include theft, burglary, criminal damage, possession of a knife in a public place, assault and drink and drug offences.
A local resident, who did not wish to be named for fear of reprisals, said: “It’s becoming a regular occurrence now and must be costing us taxpayers an absolute fortune. It’s not often a day will pass without the police or ambulance attending the property. Over recent weeks the place has become a haven for drink, drug abuse and fights. The gatherings outside are becoming larger, despite the current lockdown rules being in place. Goodness knows how much this costs the NHS as they are dispatching private contracted ambulances. It appears the property is housing people recovering from addiction or dealing with serious mental health issues and mixing them in with criminals with no interest in recovery. It is spoiling the environment for those who genuinely need help. In my opinion this is an expensive accident waiting to happen.”
Requests to the police and ambulance service for more information also drew a blank. Hampshire Police said they were unable to search their system to find out often they had been called out without details of the date and time of incidents. The Isle of Wight NHS Trust said that they were unable to provide any information about a specific address because it is classed as private patient information.