Families ready to move in to new £1.2million Gosport centre for the homeless

HAPPY From left, Councilor Mark Hook, The Mayor of Gosport Richard Dickson, and the Mayoress Bobbie Irvine with housing services manager, Corinne Waterfield. Picture: Ian Hargreaves  (122478-6)
HAPPY From left, Councilor Mark Hook, The Mayor of Gosport Richard Dickson, and the Mayoress Bobbie Irvine with housing services manager, Corinne Waterfield. Picture: Ian Hargreaves (122478-6)

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HOMELESS people in Gosport will be able to move into a new £1.2m centre by the end of the week.

Agnew House in Mill Lane is expected to save the borough council £430,000 a year as it moves homeless families out of expensive B&Bs.

And it will also replace the run-down Barclay House in Trinity Green.

The newly-refurbished house has turned 38 flats that had been sheltered accommodation into 55 units that can home families of various sizes.

At yesterday’s official opening, council leader, Cllr Mark Hook said: ‘This is to replace Barclay House – it’s outdated and well past its sell-by date and quite frankly an embarrassment.

‘We were delighted to find the funding for this. It’s important that the vulnerable are given decent conditions to live in.

‘There’s a lot of versatility in here too, because we don’t know whether we will be looking after families or individuals, and this set-up gives us that flexibility.’

Each unit has its own security pass for access, and individual bathrooms as well as shared kitchens.

There are also 36 CCTV cameras that provide 360-degree coverage with everything recorded permanently on to a hard drive.

The residents will also have to sign up to strict regulations.

John Wild, project manager for contractors Kier, said: ‘The project started off as a minimal project and it has blossomed into something where the council wanted to produce a Rolls-Royce version, where the tenants are given everything they need for a good standard of life.’

Cllr Hook added: ‘It is important that people feel secure. When this was first mooted, I know there was a lot of opposition from local residents and I hope that when they see what we are doing here those fears will be allayed.

‘I’ve heard all sorts of things about the sort of people we’re supposed to be moving in here, from illegal immigrants, to junkies and undesirables.

‘While it is temporary accommodation, the nice thing about it is that families can remain in it 24/7, with all the facilities they need.’

Mayor of Gosport, Cllr Richard Dickson, unveiled a plaque to declare the centre open and said: ‘We all think we are in charge of our lives, but none of us really are.

‘We as a local authority do care, and we will provide a facility for you when things go wrong.’

Once Barclay House is empty the council will look at demolishing it and redeveloping the site.