Frustrated residents have described the “torture” of living next to a controversial Southside hotel used as accommodation for the homeless.
At a public meeting, community members described the stress caused by the Queen’s Park Hotel as well as their fears for people living in the building.
Locals recounted being harassed and threatened by hotel residents as well as drug paraphernalia littering the street, vandalism, anti-social behavior, littering and theft.
They also criticized Glasgow City Council for using the private bed and breakfast as temporary accommodation, saying guests did not have proper facilities or adequate staff.
A woman, placed in a hotel on June 9 by the council after presenting herself as homeless, said she had still not received a social worker.
New legislation determines that ‘unsuitable accommodation’ such as bed and breakfasts must be used for a maximum of seven days – but the woman, who did not want to be named, said she had no idea when where it would be moved.
She told the meeting, organized by the Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council, that no support had been offered to her.
She said: “I’m always told tomorrow but tomorrow never comes.
“We don’t have access to kitchen facilities. We change bath towels once a week.
“They took the evening meal away from us.
READ MORE: Residents demand end to notorious Southside hotel
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for the accommodation, but I feel like you’re just placed somewhere and left and forgotten, just put it in the clothes you’re standing in and nothing else .
“While the council is paying for these hotels there are plenty of empty houses – why not use them?”
A Freedom of Information request showed that a guest had stayed 484 consecutive days at the hotel.
From September 30 last year to May 15 this year, there were 221 occasions when people stayed at the Queens Park Hotel for more than seven days, in breach of Scottish housing law.
Another resident told the meeting, “I’ve been to every homeless hotel in town and there’s nothing, no help.
“You are just treated like a number. There is no support.
“There’s drug use and all sorts of things going on. It’s the worst now that it’s ever been.”
The problems with the Queen’s Park Hotel have lasted for at least 15 years, with the Glasgow Times reporting in 2007 on similar issues of crime and anti-social behavior alongside substandard accommodation.
The building on Balvicar Street was once owned by businessman Alistair McKever, but neighbors were hoping for a makeover when his business went bankrupt in 2009 and new owners took over.
However, the situation kept getting worse.
It is now owned by Harhill Limited, registered in the name of Mohammad Ikram Hussain. The firm did not respond to requests for comment.
The public meeting brought together Shawlands and Strathbungo Community Council, Living Rent, the Simon Community charity, local residents and the Niddrie Square Residents Association, all of whom spoke about issues with the hotel.
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Hotel management was invited to the meeting but did not attend.
B&B accommodation is not regulated by Glasgow City Council or the Care Inspectorate and locals at the meeting called on council to investigate the standard of living in the hotel.
When asked if an investigation would be conducted, a spokeswoman for the council said: “As outlined at Wednesday evening’s meeting, the council will continue its engagement with community council members as we develop and deliver our temporary accommodation strategy.
“We are currently pursuing a number of investments to continue to improve the support and facilities available to hotel residents. We are currently working with the hotel owners to advance a program of works.
“We are currently reviewing the way we work with property owners to ensure that accommodation meets acceptable standards.”
Several residents spoke of how their lives were affected by living near the hotel. A man said he was threatened by a resident and spoke of men urinating in the lane that ran alongside the hotel and groups drinking on the steps outside his apartment.
Another woman said that after living in the building next door for 30 years, she was now moving out for mental health reasons.
She said: “I can’t sleep at night anymore because of the noises coming out of the hotel and people calling for help at 2am and 3am.
“I’m getting emotional about it and it’s affecting my health now, so I’m moving.
“But it’s disgusting what’s going on there. Even though I go out at night to take out my trash, the abuse I receive on a daily basis.
“I’m not sleeping because of the hotel – the screaming and the bawling and the shouting.
“People don’t understand what we’re going through with this building. It’s torture.”
Concerns have been raised for hotel residents also with Jamie Sweet, manager of The Point at Queen’s Park Baptist Church, saying: “We are concerned about the good care of hotel guests.
“It has to get better.
“It is difficult for them at the hotel and we can confirm their testimonies – they are not allowed to speak to anyone or enter anyone’s rooms; they have microwaves and c is about all.
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“We face the same kind of difficulties as other residents.
“We just found sharp objects and spoons outside the back of the church this morning.
“We tolerate that but the living conditions there should not be tolerated.”
Community Policing Inspector Cennydd Smith in the Gorbals said he would personally be a point of contact for affected residents.
He said it was essential that residents report problems to the police so that he could allocate sufficient resources.
Cennydd said: “I listened to all the stories tonight and read all the emails sent to me and the incident data is not related to that.
“That doesn’t mean what happens doesn’t happen, it just doesn’t come down to us.
“You all talked about vulnerable people staying as hotel guests, but what we don’t want to do is criminalize vulnerable people.
“If someone drinks a bottle of vodka in the street, we fining them £60 is not going to help them.
“For low-level anti-social behavior, it’s important that we don’t criminalize people.”
Glasgow City Council pays £350 a week to house one person at the Queen’s Park Hotel, which has 58 rooms and can generate over £1million a year for its owners.
Iain MacInnes of the Scottish Tennants Association (STA) said the issues relate to Scotland and Glasgow, with the group calling for a public inquiry.
He said: “If the council is going to treat people like garbage, we shouldn’t be surprised that they treat the environment around them like garbage.
“Counseling is not doing its job from a care perspective in any dimension.
“It feels like the work house but without the work. It’s not just a disgrace, it’s an ongoing scandal.”
Sean Clerkin, also from the STA, added: “We are here to advocate for people who are in temporary accommodation because we have helped them over the past few years.
“The fact is that Glasgow City Council, basically because we are going through this cost of living crisis, there are a lot more people living in temporary accommodation – there are currently 6352 people – an increase of 10% .
“All these private owners are making it up. Think what they could do with the money spent – they could build decent houses, decent accommodations.
“Residents of Queen’s Park and other hotels use shared toilets and washing facilities.
“These people are treated as if they were nothing and worthless.
“Nine homeless people are now dead in the city – five men and four women. When is this going to stop? There must be a public inquiry.”