Sunderland youth shelter can stay open

Councillor Michael Mordey is concerned about Centrepoint in Mowbray Road.
Councillor Michael Mordey is concerned about Centrepoint in Mowbray Road.
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A CONTROVERSIAL homeless shelter for youths has had its licence extended for nine months.

Centrepoint applied to Sunderland City Council to carry on using Oakwood House, in Mowbray Road, as an emergency shelter for 16 to 21-year-olds, until its new £1million premises opens in Dundas Street, Monkwearmouth, in April.

However, some Hendon residents complained about the application, saying that despite their initial grievances with the plans four years ago, the council had not listened to them.

They claimed youths at Centrepoint had no respect for property, downed booze in the street, swore and abused people in the street, resulting in 186 police calls in just one month.

On behalf of ward colleagues, Councillor Michael Mordey said: “One of our long-standing concerns has been the number of hostels and temporary accommodation provision in our ward. Hendon has had far too many of these for too long.

“We are appalled, therefore, to note that the city council is considering approving a second extension to planning permission for the use of Oakfield House, in Mowbray Road, as supported residential accommodation by the well-resourced national organisation Centrepoint, simply because that organisation has been unable to manage its proposed building project elsewhere in the city.”

However, it was pointed out to other councillors that only three people submitted objections to the renewal proposal, compared to 200 in 2008.

Coun Mordey said: “People simply feel that they are not being heard, that’s why they haven’t bothered to write in because they don’t see the point.

“In 2008, 200 people wrote to the council and telephoned but nothing was done, therefore they feel that expressing their views is not worth it.”

The meeting also heard that crime in the area has dropped compared to the same time last year and that despite the application allowing Centrepoint to use the premises until April, the new site in Monkwearmouth is hoped to be ready by January.

Coun Bryan Charlton, of Redhill ward, said: “If we do reject the application, what will happen to the kids?

“They’re going to be out in January, so we’re only really looking at five months.

“I accept what other councillors are saying, but I don’t think we’ve got any choice but to bite the bullet and accept the application.”

No one from Centrepoint was at the meeting, prompting Coun Alan Wright to suggest a deferment until a representative could be present.

It was denied and the application for a further nine months was accepted.

Twitter: @sunderlandecho