RESIDENTS in the Empress Street area of Accrington are calling for a youth hostel to close, saying they have "had enough".
Members of the Accrington West Residents’ Association meet monthly to discuss problems which they claim relate to Crossroads Social Services Centre – which offers accommodation for up to 11 males and females aged 16 to 25 in need of housing.
Neighbours have reported problems including loud music, obscene language, vandalism, evidence of drug use and regular fighting. Police regularly attend the premises – especially at weekends.
Joan Pilkington, 73, of neighbouring Princess Street, is chairman of the residents’ association.
She said: "People have had enough and want to see it closed. We want some peace and quiet. We are living in a nightmare."
At the last residents’ meeting around 30 people voiced their concerns about the hostel to police and David Lees from the Salvation Army, which runs the building.
Residents were promised that measures would be put in place but just hours later a 19-year-old man received serious stab injuries to his chest just yards away.
Amjid Ali, 26, of Russia Street, said: "The home is like a magnet for all the riff-raff. People are too scared to go out at night.
"The Salvation Army is supposed to be a charity but it is not helping people. If we started a petition to close the hostel we would have the backing of all the residents."
Another meeting was due to be held last Friday with police, neighbourhood management and representatives from Crossroads to try and solve the problem.
Russia Street resident Joe Treacy, 71, a part-time cleaner and driver, said: "This place has been open for about 15 years and these problems have occurred and re-occured at various levels of severity since it opened.
"We have had all the promises of extra this and extra that and it calms down but then flares up again.
"The police have done a lot but they can’t get rid of the underlying problem."
Sergeant Simon Holderness and his team, who have been liaising between the two parties, said extra patrols have been used and progress has been made.
He said: "We do feel that it is a difficult situation. We have to balance the needs of the community, who are suffering some quite serious problems, with the needs of the centre, which provides a valuable service.
"The centre is here to stay, as much as the residents would like to see it closed."
A spokesman for the Salvation Army said a series of measures would be implemented to tackle the problems, including extra security patrols between 9pm and 3am and sealing off an access door on Russia Street.
He said: "Not only does the facility offer a safe haven to these vulnerable young people but it also aims to help them find their own permanent accommodation.
"However, we recognise the concerns that a very small minority of our residents are not behaving appropriately and with due consideration.
"We are reviewing the programme to see how this can be improved and we will continue to meet when necessary with our partner agencies to ensure the smooth running of the facility."