Huddersfield hotel for homeless is bringing crime to our door say locals

Outlane residents are fearing for their village as they claim a hotel being used by Kirklees Council to house homeless people is not fit for purpose.

Locals are outraged as they believe that the use of the Old Golf House Hotel is bringing crime and anti-social behaviour to the village, and are growing increasingly frustrated with the council as it continues with a “neither confirm nor deny” approach when responding to requests for information.

The situation has prompted a group of residents to come together and form the Outlane Action Group to campaign against the hotel’s use as temporary accommodation to house homeless and vulnerable people.

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The group has repeatedly raised concerns with Kirklees and Calderdale Councils which are both understood to have used the hotel, as well as other bodies like West Yorkshire Police (WYP). Calderdale Council has said that it is no longer using the site as temporary accommodation.

A key issue for residents is the suitability of the facility to house vulnerable people. Oliver Sheard and other members of the residents’ group have claimed that the Hotel has no kitchen facility, and has one microwave to serve the 51 rooms. The same was said by James Brown who asked a question about the use of the hotel at a cabinet meeting earlier in the year.

Mr Brown wanted to raise the “many issues and concerns” surrounding the use of the hotel and sought assurance that it was fit for purpose. Among the other issues raised were policing, the cost to the public, safeguarding and poor transport links. Mr Brown also said the site was turned down in 2021 by the Home Office for housing asylum seekers.

In response, Cabinet Member for Housing and Highways, Cllr Moses Crook, said that the local authority is experiencing “unprecedented demand pressure” from people looking for affordable housing, with not enough to meet demand. He explained that the council has a statutory obligation to prevent homelessness and as a “last resort” uses emergency, temporary hotel accommodation in various locations.

He continued: “Any property that we do use is inspected regularly to ensure that it meets and continues to meet relevant standards. In addition, we provide any welfare support that may be required and is within our ability to supply.

“We work closely with other services which may also have responsibilities such as the police and others to ensure that our tenants are as safe as possible at all times and that any impact on surrounding communities is minimised.”

The Outlane residents have also criticised the placement of vulnerable people at the hotel as they believe it has led to an increase in anti-social behaviour and crime in the area. Members of the group have reported contacting the police on about suspected cannabis use and anti-social behaviour.

In addition, a complaint about bin bags piling up at the site was also recently made to Kirklees Council.

As of May 3, West Yorkshire Police (WYP) confirmed that they had received a call reporting “smelling potential cannabis when walking past the grounds of a building” on April 30, 2024.

The statement from a WYP spokesperson continued: “While regular patrols do take place in the local area, police have not put in place any special or increased patrolling there. Officers have not recorded any increase in crime in the Outlane community.”

The action group also says that a number of their FOI requests to Kirklees Council have been denied on the grounds of protecting those living at the property from harassment and abuse.

However, the residents’ group has pointed out what they believe to be a double standard, when Leader of the Council, Cllr Cathy Scott, hit out at Home Office plans to house asylum seekers at a location on Manchester Road, Huddersfield in February.

Finally, the Outlane group is concerned by the amount of money being put into the hotel. They say that public expenditure data has shown that between September 2023 and February 2024, Kirklees Council spent around £637k housing people at the hotel. While the details of the entries are redacted, the group says it has evidence that they relate to the Old Golf House Hotel.

An FOI request from the Local Democracy Reporting Service (LDRS) revealed that Calderdale Council had paid just over £182k to the hotel's operator while it was using the site. The request also showed that the local authority began using the site in July last year but this had ceased by the time of the FOI request on March 25, 2024.

We asked Kirklees Council for the same information but this was refused.

In response to the residents’ concerns, a Kirklees Council spokesperson, said: "The council has a duty to provide emergency accommodation for those homeless households who meet certain criteria and sources a variety of temporary accommodation as necessary.

“In some instances, and as a last resort, we have to use hotel accommodation for short periods whilst we seek more appropriate solutions. We work closely with our partners to make sure all accommodation meets the required standards.

“Accommodation sites are regularly checked by the council and partners to ensure any issues or concerns are identified and addressed, and any reports made to the council are taken seriously."

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