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List of trouble at bed-sits for the homeless

By Andrew Dixon

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The Island Bank Road house for the homeless
The Island Bank Road house for the homeless

STAFF have been threatened with violence and verbally abused at homeless accommodation in an upmarket area of Inverness.

Several tenants were arrested during the first year of operation at the semi-detached property, in Island Bank Road, which people living nearby are campaigning to have closed down.

Northern Constabulary’s acting superintendent Jim Neil has revealed details of 11 incidents police have been called to at the five-bedroom, three-storey house, owned by Tamer Tasasiz.

It is being run by the Highland Homeless Trust and gives homeless young people a roof over their head until they are able to find their own place.

On Tuesday the incidents will be discussed by Highland councillors, who will decide whether to renew the property’s house in multiple occupation licence.

Cases include staff contacting police on at least three occasions.

"A resident was being asked to leave, he reacted in a violent and aggressive manner towards the staff. The attending officers arrested the resident," states acting supt Neil, in his report to councillors.

Other incidents include allegations of domestic assault, theft, breach of the peace and noise.

Charlie and Catherine Grant, who have lived next door to the house for 38 years, branded the last year as a nightmare.

They claim loud music and foul language are a continual problem, while other neighbours fear the house is being used for drug taking.

"This police information clearly strengthens our case but whether or not it will have any affect, I just don’t know," Mrs Grant said.

"There seems to be an inability or unwillingness to see past this as a Highland Homeless Trust project because whatever they want, they seem to get."

Objectors plan to attend the debate at the council’s Glenurquhart Road headquarters.

The property was approved for conversion in September 2009 despite objections from neighbours.

"I don’t really think they (Highland Licensing Committee members) take any notice whatsoever of ordinary people and their objections," Mrs Grant added.

"We will go there in hope, but with very little expectation."

Locals are also angry because they claim they were initially told only pregnant homeless women would be housed in the property, but the tenants have been predominantly male.

The trust says staff visit the house in Island Bank Road at least three times a day.

Last month director Paul Monaghan admitted he was unaware how many times police had been called to the house, believing only one incident had been reported.

Yesterday he was reluctant to comment on the situation. "I don’t really want to get involved in the discussion of personal situations in a supported accommodation," he said. "It will be appropriately heard at the licensing committee."

Northern Constabulary have no objections to the application for renewal.

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