Council urged to tackle hostel 'eyesore' amid homeless crisis

Homeless hostel left in disrepair in Wisbech

Cllr Dave Patrick (right) has called on Fenland District Council and its head of housing and neighbourhood services, Dan Horn, to repair the "eyesore" at the former hostel on Kirkgate Street in Wisbech - Credit: FDC/YouTube/Wisbech Town Council/Supplied

A hostel in Wisbech which closed more than two years ago will require “significant refurbishment” if it is to combat the homeless crisis once again. 

Fenland Council (FDC) have been unable to find a new provider for the hostel on Kirkgate Street after a 10-year contract with previous provider, Notting Hill Genesis, ended in 2019. 

A FDC spokesperson said it has “since been trying to secure another provider with the skills and experience” to run the service, which ran from the 1990s. 

Wisbech town and Fenland district councillor Dave Patrick, whose daughter was forced to move out from the hostel in 2019, has labelled the site as “an eyesore. 

Former homeless hostel in Wisbech

The former hostel on Kirkgate Street in Wisbech, which closed in 2019, is boarded up and left in disrepair. Cllr Dave Patrick is calling on Fenland Council to rectify the situation as soon as possible. - Credit: Supplied

“We have had this crisis and still have numerous homeless people in Wisbech relying on 50/50 Vision,” he said. 

“They should refurbish and start putting homeless people in there, what it was designed for.” 

Cllr Patrick said litter, from cigarette butts to PPE, have been strewn around the building which used to house up to nine tenants. 

Former homeless hostel on Kirkgate Street Wisbech

In and around the former hostel on Kirkgate Street in Wisbech, which closed in 2019, is boarded up and left in disrepair. Cllr Dave Patrick is calling on Fenland Council to rectify the situation as soon as possible. - Credit: Supplied

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After Genesis left, talks broke down between FDC, The Ferry Project and Places for People to take over the service due to practical issues. 

The council spokesperson said it has spoken to “several different providers” about running the hostel but no agreement has been made. 

The spokesperson said: “Options are being explored, although the premise will require significant refurbishment before any service can be provided.” 

Litter strewn at former homeless hostel in Wisbech

In and around the former hostel on Kirkgate Street in Wisbech, which closed in 2019, is boarded up and left in disrepair. Cllr Dave Patrick is calling on Fenland Council to rectify the situation as soon as possible. - Credit: Supplied

During the Covid-19 pandemic, FDC has spent over £1 million on supporting homeless people, but how much it would cost to refurbish the hostel remains unclear. 

“Whatever has happened there, people have been left on the streets who could have had a roof over their head,” said Cllr Patrick. 

Former homeless hostel in Wisbech left in disrepair

In and around the former hostel on Kirkgate Street in Wisbech, which closed in 2019, is boarded up and left in disrepair. Cllr Dave Patrick is calling on Fenland Council to rectify the situation as soon as possible. - Credit: Supplied

“I would like to see FDC clear up the eyesore and negotiate with the Ferry Project on bringing the building back into use as soon as possible.” 

FDC said it did investigate the use of the hostel during the pandemic, but were unable to do so. 

The spokesperson said: “It was not a practical solution given the urgency of the ‘Everyone In’ directive, the refurbishment needed and the management and support arrangements and agreements that would have been needed.” 

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