LEADERS of the council in Chester have been branded a “disgrace” after giving the go-ahead for a controversial homeless shelter.
More than 50 angry residents last night filled an executive meeting at the HQ building in Chester to show their anger over a Cheshire West and Chester Council proposal to set up a ‘homeless hub’ at Richmond Court on the canalside at Boughton.
The ruling Conservative group voted unanimously at the emotionally charged meeting in favouf of the scheme, prompting calls for council leader Mike Jones to resign.
The verdict brought to a head plans to move homeless facilities from the city centre to Richmond Court which were approved, despite overwhelming opposition of 85 per cent of people following a delayed public consultation.
Addressing the executive, Labour opposition leader Justin Madders said: “You are gaining a reputation as a council that just doesn’t listen to its residents. You have learned nothing.
“Given the fact you had to be dragged into the consultation process in the first place, the whole thing has been an expensive and time-consuming sham.”
Residents cheered an applauded loudly as several visiting councillors took turns to show their support for the campaigners and urged the local authority to change its mind and vote against the plans.
Boughton Labour Cllr David Robinson said: “You have seen the passion, real following and the real belief of these campaigners.
“The level of public engagement in the public consultation was phenomenal and saw a turnout twice the size of that of the Student Village, which you chose to reject only the other week.
“The Richmond Court development will impact on the quiet community that residents currently enjoy and will undo the hard work that has gone in over many years into making the canal towpath that runs into the city a safe and scenic area.
“Having a homeless shelter housing vulnerable people so close to a canal and deep water locks could have disastrous consequences.”
Council leader Jones called for calm after residents criticised executive member for adult services, Tory Cllr Brenda Dowding, when she dismissed the views of the campaigners as “being no different to those of any other community” if faced with such proposals.
“People not liking something is not a valid reason to reject it,” she said.
When the final outcome was announced by Cllr Jones, it was met with a chorus of boos from the gathered residents, with several declaring “It’s not over” to the executive members.
Speaking later, campaigner Angela Chidley said: “I’m just disgusted with the way this council has acted and the way they have ignored us and totally disregarded our campaign.
“This is not the end. No way.
“It will involve yet more cost to us but we will be seeking legal advice immediately and seeking a judicial review.”