Homeless hostel residents accused of theft and spitting at neighbours

The hostel has been described as a 'public nuisance' by fed-up Gorebridge residents
The hostel has been described as a 'public nuisance' by fed-up Gorebridge residents
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DISGRUNTLED residents living next to a homeless hostel claim they have been subjected to a reign of terror which has seen people spat at in the street and property stolen and sold on eBay.

Fed-up residents have described the Gorebridge hostel, which is seeking a review of its licence, as a “public nuisance”.

Operators, however, have hit back at the neighbours, claiming they are waging a needless witch-hunt.

The hostel, which has been operating since early 2012, came in for heavy criticism over theft, abusive behaviour and intimidation when it went before Midlothian Council.

In one example, an objector claimed a tenant at the Main Street property had been examining her partner’s motorbike, only for it to be stolen two days later with pieces posted on eBay.

Diane Harcus, who also claimed her 14-year-old son had also been invited to an alcohol-fuelled party at the hostel, said: “We have had loud music blaring it until the small hours, arguing, fighting.

“I have been nearly spat on as I walk past. The residents even sit on the window ledges and smoke and drink.”

The hostel, which has applied to house up to four tenants, is seeking a House in Multiple Occupation licence.

But more than a dozen residents spoke of their concerns over antisocial and criminal behaviour.

In a letter of objection, neighbour Stephanie Walker said she had been approached by an aggressive man who had been shouting into a mobile phone while he was out with his two-year-old son. She said: “I had to go back to my home until I felt it was safe to leave.”

In another incident, a couple described being woken up at 5am by two “clearly drunk” men hammering in the door pretending to be police officers.

The decision on whether to grant the HMO licence was deferred to the next committee meeting to allow the applicant to explain what measures were being taken to nurse good management.

No objections were made by Lothian and Borders Police.

Applicant Elaine Collins said: “We get all sorts of people coming here. Although we can’t guarantee there will never be any trouble, we do remove people if they don’t fit in.”