A decision over a proposed relocation of a community office to a sheltered housing building has been put on hold amid concerns vulnerable residents could be exposed to antisocial behaviour.
Richmondshire District Council’s corporate board agreed to review the plan provide extra privacy and security at the office providing a range of council services in Colburn.
The planned relocation to the Oak Tree Court supported housing building has been suggested due to insufficient space where it is currently located in the library building on Broadway.
This story continues after the adverts:
A meeting of the authority’s corporate board heard as a flat in Oak Tree Court was being converted for the office, residents would benefit from a revamped communal area.
However, councillors raised concerns that as the community office would have a cashpoint machine, the building could become a focus for criminals.
Mayor of Colburn, Councillor Helen Grant said despite a Public Spaces Protection Order being imposed less than 100 yards from Oak Tree Court there continued to be “constant problems and arrests” in the vicinity.
She said the offer of revamping the residents’ lounge amounted to “a pay-off”.
Cllr Grant said: “Some of these people are really vulnerable, frail people. They hardly come out of their rooms.
“I am horrified that we thinking about putting this kind of establishment in what is somebody’s home. It shocks me that anybody could be thinking about putting them in a more vulnerable position than they are already in.”
Ward councillor Angie Dale said the authority needed to explore other options.
She said: “It’s the wrong location. You are putting a community office in a place that should be safe. The residents are extremely disappointed and extremely upset about this proposal.”
The council’s leader, Councillor Yvonne Peacock said while the community office would have a separate entrance to building and no cash would be left in the office overnight the council wanted to make sure the residents were safe and felt safe.
Councillor Tony Duff said: “I totally fail to see why putting this kiosk there increases the antisocial behaviour in Colburn. It’s there. It’s not going to get worse because of this office being there.”
Other issues, Councillor Stuart Parsons said, included a risk Colburn library would have to close as a result of the council no longer renting space for the community office in the library.
He said: “That is a major reputational risk for this council. This council will be blameable for the failure of a community facility which we have all tried very hard to keep going.”
Deferring the decision until January, Cllr Peacock asked officers to further explore the options for the community office and whether an agreement could be made with the library’s management as well as organise a visit to Oak Tree Court for councillors to view the issues and speak to residents.
Philip Wicks, chair of voluntary organisation Craccl, which runs the library, said after the meeting that they were working closely with the council to come up with a solution for the office to stay within the library.