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Homeless hostel goes after backpackers

September 16th 2011

A notorious Glasgow homeless hostel has closed its doors to its former clientele and rebranded itself as a budget hotel for backpackers.

The shabby Queen’s Park Hotel, in Glasgow’s Southside, which locals blamed for rising levels of crime and antisocial behaviour in the area, was popular with no one.

Those who stayed at the Balvicar Street ‘hotel’ claimed it was ‘scary’, while some said they were given little support to manage addiction problems and other issues while living there. Others complained about the lack of kitchen facilities and private bathrooms - both of which are required in order for B&B accommodation to be judged suitable for housing homeless households with children.

Glasgow City Council stopped using the hostel three years ago following concerns about the standard of accommodation it provided.

However three other councils - South Lanarkshire, East Dunbartonshire and East Renfrewshire - continued to send those with no one else to turn to the Glasgow B&B. According to the Scottish Government, ‘out of area placements’ such as this should only be done as a last resort.

Yet last month, following a meeting with Glasgow’s Green councillor Danny Alderslowe, local authority representatives, hotel management and Strathclyde Police, an agreement was reached that the hotel would stop providing accommodation for homeless people. It is understood that councils are still looking into alternative places providing emergency accommodation.

The Queens Park Hotel was previously owned by Alistair McKever, whose McKever Group ran the equally controversial Park View Hotel nearby until it was closed due to pressure by a residents’ campaign. The building was later converted to luxury flats. But after the group went into administration in 2009, with spiraling debts of £70 million, the Queens Park Hotel changed hands.

The Pavement understands it was bought with the intention of converting it back to its original use as a hotel and that the new owner is keen to shake off the bad reputation it had gained.

It has now undergone a badly-needed refurbishment, and is marketed on the web as the Queens Park Budget Hotel - “Clean, basic accommodation facility available for those who are on a tight budget”. It has attracted favorable reviews from those staying there who include parties of Spanish tourists and Australian backpackers.

Alderslowe said the decision was the best one all round. “We had long had concerns that local authorities were making use of this hostel without providing them with adequate support,” he told The Pavement Scotland.

“People were being put in this hostel, where staff were not professionally trained to meet their needs, residents were unhappy and it wasn’t actually helping anyone.”

But he claimed the real issue remained the lack of adequate homeless accommodation. “This is an issue that had a domino affect for everyone in society and it urgently needs to be addressed,” Alderslowe added. “In many local authorities, there are literally no rooms at the inn.

“I fear that due to current financial pressures, more people than ever before are going to find themselves in a position of needing to be housed. And already we are at breaking point. “

The manager of the Queens Park Hotel confirmed that they had severed ties with councils and were now taking only private bookings but did not wish to comment further.


September 2011



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