Page last updated at 14:49 GMT, Tuesday, 15 July 2008 15:49 UK

Anger over housing for homeless

Lannoweth Road, Penzance
Residents claim there has been an increase in police activity

The number of homes being set aside for homeless people in a Cornish town has sparked anger among local residents.

People living in Morrab Road and Lannoweth Road in Penzance are upset at not being consulted before houses in their streets were converted.

Penwith District Council said it was not necessary to consult residents about setting up the houses.

But residents claim the houses of multiple occupation have caused problems with anti-social behaviour.

They believe the council is not adhering to its contract that the properties, are "monitored, dry and drug free".

The homeless have got as much right as anybody not to be tagged
Barry Turnbull, Penwith District Council

One Lannoweth Road resident, who did not want to be identified, told BBC News the street had gone through a "renaissance" in recent years, with new families moving into the street.

"There were really positive signs of people of people taking pride in their area," the resident said.

"All this work has been undone by the actions of Penwith District Council which has resulted in an increase in drugs, crime and police activity on the street.

Another resident said they now have to make regular calls to the police because of disturbances.

'Track record'

"I'm really concerned about the high concentration of these vulnerable people on our road, shouting from one house to another, throwing stones at windows and domestic disputes spilling out onto pavement."

Some neighbours claim they have had to sweep up used needles.

Devon and Cornwall Police's neighbourhood beat manager said officers were working closely with both residents and the council.

Barry Turnbull, the environmental health coordinator for Penwith's housing department, said the scheme had a proven track record for helping people to turn their lives around.

He said the council also had a duty of care for those using the 19 homes in Penzance.

Meeting rescheduled

"The homeless have got as much right as anybody not to be tagged, branded, labelled or put into one particular pigeon hole in society," he told BBC News.

"Within that remit, we didn't feel the need for a wide, or even a high local consultancy with residents."

Mr Turnbull said there was a particular need for this type of scheme in Penzance, which had high levels of homelessness.

He said multiple occupancy was not a new concept and many houses on Morrab Road and Lannoweth Road had been used for that purpose for many years.

A public meeting with all the key figures is to be organised at St John's Hall in Penzance to discuss the issue.

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