St Albans vulnerable adults shelter blamed for anti-social behaviour

Martin House on Upper Lattimore Road.

Martin House on Upper Lattimore Road. - Credit: Archant

A shelter for vulnerable adults in St Albans has become the focus of fear and suspicion from families living nearby.

Occupants of Martin House on Upper Lattimore Road are being accused of anti-social behaviour, including harassing and chasing passers-by, urinating in the street, and shouting at neighbours about noise. On one recent occasion they allegedly allowed a late-night visitor to sound their car horn repeatedly outside the House.

One neighbour, who wished to remain anonymous, said: “The impact on our lives cannot be measured. People next door to us can often smell weed and once the smell was so strong you could have got high.

“They have got the wrong people in charge.”

Martin House provides 20 places for vulnerable men who have prolific offending behaviours, traumatic personal histories, and have lost independent living skills, according to property managers Hightown Housing Association.

But neighbours have blamed occupants for contributing to the large number of Upper Lattimore Road residents who have appeared in court over the past few years, including some as recent as January.

The neighbour asked: “Why is it so many people from the street are in court?

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“Last summer there were six police cars at the house and we noticed ambulances were visiting on a pretty regular basis.”

One case they highlighted was that of Gary Jennings, currently serving a nine-year prison sentence for indecently assaulting a child, whose address was given in court as Upper Lattimore Road.

A spokesperson for Hightown said: “We have a policy of exclusion against anyone with a conviction for sexual offences.”

Last year, Hightown produced a report which claimed Martin House saved the health service, police, and local authorities £122,386.

Yet this figure has been disputed by the neighbours, who claim there is a smaller number of residents at Martin House than quoted in Hightown’s report.

The neighbour said: “The report is a piece of fiction.”

A Hightown spokesperson said: “Every resident is assessed to ensure they are suitable to live there, and Martin House does not accept any new service user who has been involved in serious criminal activity within the previous 12 months, or with any history of sexual offences.

“If they are involved in serious or repeated illegal activity, they will not be allowed to remain at Martin House.”

He added: “Our staff have always maintained a dialogue with local residents.”

Karen Dragovic, head of housing for St Albans district council, said: “The housing association leases Martin House from the council, however we are not involved in the running of Martin House.

“Residents of Martin House are referred to the facility by a number of organisations providing housing advice and support, including the council.”

A meeting between residents, the district council, police and Hightown has been scheduled for tomorrow to discuss the situation.