Council seeks to ease homeless centre fears

PENICUIK: Pentland house - residents concerned over plans for it's use as a homeless unit.
PENICUIK: Pentland house - residents concerned over plans for it's use as a homeless unit.

Midlothian Council has reaffirmed its commitment to an agreement made with residents living near a soon to be opened homeless centre.

Former care home Pentland House in Penicuik is due to open in September as a homeless unit.

In 2014 local residents were assured that no drug users or criminals would be allowed in the centre, which will have 43 rooms for up to 49 people.

With the Salvation Army taking on the facilit,y locals want reassurances that the original agreement stands.

One of those residents, Alan Robertson has written to the council about the issue,

He said: “As residents we got an assurance from the council a year ago explaining that there would not be any drugs or criminals going in, but the goal posts have changed with Salvation Army taking on the building.

“We are apprehensive and I have written to the council on their behalf.

‘‘People in the neighbourhood that wanted reassurances about security.”

It is expected that when it opens as a homeless unit in September, the three storey building will have 18 staff working 24 hours a day.

Alan is adamant that the residents have nothing against the unit.

“We are not against homeless people – just certain elements.

‘‘If a young person gets flung out their house and ends up at Pentland House, that’s what it’s for, we have no problem with that. We are concerned about the mixture who move in.”

A spokesman for Midlothian Council said: “Pentland House has been renovated to provide a safe and comfortable alternative to the use of bed and breakfast accommodation for Midlothian households who have become homeless.

“It is not intended for housing residents with high support needs and, in the event of an occupant causing a negative impact either within the property or to the neighbouring community, they can be removed from the accommodation within 24 hours.

“Midlothian Council has previously involved residents in consultation regarding the use of Pentland House and we have planned an open day event on August 17 prior to the building being occupied.”

A Salvation Army spokesman said: “As an experienced and trusted provider of homelessness services, the Salvation Army will work with Midlothian Council to help people attain and sustain their own tenancy.”