Concerned Citizens of Wicklow
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PROPOSED LOCATION OF A WET AND DRY HOSTEL AT ‘
THE WARRENS’ KILMANTIN HILL, WICKLOW. Proposed location of a Wet & Dry Hostel Kilmantin Hill, to house 22
plus with no font or rear garden, some of whom will have drug &
alcohol addictions & some mental health issues. Objection is to the
location being unsuitable. See below for further info.
The 'Concerned Wicklow Citizens Group' has been formed to oppose the location of a 24 hour supported temporary accommodation centre in 'The Warrens', Kilmantin Hill, Wicklow Town to be run by the Simon Community.
We would like to emphasise at the outset that we greatly admire the work carried out by The Simon Community and that it is primarily the location of the centre that we oppose. We are also extremely disappointed by the manner in which it has been foisted onto the residents without any consultation or consideration whatsoever by Wicklow County Council.
The Purchase of ‘The Warrens’:
The method in which the building and the adjacent one was purchased by Wicklow County Council has infuriated us. According to The Simon Community, this process has been ongoing for eighteen months however not once during that period were the local residents consulted about the plans for the building. We believe that the building was purchased by Mr. Michael Nicholson in his role as Director of Services for Wicklow County Council. As Manager of Wicklow Town Council also, Mr. Nicholson is Chairman of the Planning Committee which means that there could be a potential conflict of interest if a planning application in relation to the buildings had to be submitted. We understand that the local councillors do not have any powers in this area as these are executive powers however we would strongly urge all councillors to support our cause and do their utmost to help the very people that elected them to office. We certainly feel that a decision for such a centre was always going to cause great concern and we believe it is only a matter of courtesy that we be given an opportunity in the proper forum to voice our objections to the location of the centre.
What are Simon proposing?
Simon want to convert the buildings which are at present two terraced houses into a twenty four hour temporary accommodation centre for up twenty two homeless individuals & couples. These will include people that are using alcohol & drugs and some will also have mental health issues. The centre will include a wet room, dry room and provide services to those presenting with addictions & mental health issues.
Simon have quoted several figures for the numbers of homeless in the Wicklow Urban Area. Different spokespeople had differing numbers (15, 17 and 25) of people that are classed as homeless by virtue of them sleeping rough, sleeping on couches or squatting in local factories. This has come as a revelation to the group and we have asked our councillors to investigate the accuracy of these numbers.
We have arranged with Simon to visit one of their facilities in another town. The Sean McDermott Street or Harcourt Street facilities are in the inner city Dublin and so are not relevant to centre planned for Wicklow. Instead we will be visiting Dundalk where we will also talk to nearby schools and residents to hear about their experiences.
Why are we opposed to the centre at present?
The location is wrong.
The building is located in a built up residential area with a number of elderly and vulnerable people living both on the road and in nearby areas, especially the sheltered housing scheme for OAPs in Crinion Park which is a mere stones throw away at the bottom of the Gaol Lane.
The adjacent houses will have little or no privacy around their properties as they will be overlooked from the centre.
There is an extremely limited yard to rear of the building meaning that any outdoor activities for the residents of the centre will have to take place in a public area with the Barrow Green or Ball Alley being the nearest open spaces.
There is limited parking outside the building for staff members.
There is no sound-proofing in the buildings, which is of serious concern to the family living immediately adjacent to one of the buildings, one of whom has recently suffered a stroke
‘The Warrens’ is located directly opposite the main tourist site in the town, Wicklow Gaol as well as being on the Bus Eireann 133 route. If the town has any real prospect of promoting tourism then locating a hostel for the homeless directly across the road from the main tourist attraction is not the way to do it.
The Library, which has 1,500 children registered as readers, is also located across the road from ‘The Warrens’.
The entrances to the girls’ schools, The Dominican College Secondary School and Holy Rosary National School are located at the top of the Kilmantin Hill which means that a large percentage of the pupils attending these schools will pass directly by the building everyday. The Barrow Green which qualifies as a green space for the centre is located directly across the road from the school gates.
Regardless of how professionally it is run by Simon, it is inevitable there will be some form of anti-social behaviour directly linked to the centre. In their defence, Simon have indicated that they will carry out regular four hour patrols of the area to ‘ensure no visible presence on the streets or the locality near the project’ and a ‘direct contact phone number for the project and a system of rapid response to issues as they arise’. A lot can happen in four hours and whilst the Simon staff will be trained in dealing with these situations, the elderly passer by, shop worker or school girl won’t be. The residents have had bitter previous experience of such anti-social behaviour problems when the building was used as a hostel to house asylum seekers. They can testify to numerous incidences resulting in many fearing for their own personal safety.
You can show your support by signing one the petitions which are available though-out local shops in Wicklow town & also here. We currently have 400 plus signatures but need 1,000 plus