Project sparks fears that violent criminals could move in
A HOME plan which caused a storm of protest amid fears violent criminals would move into a Stafford village has been ditched in what has been dubbed a victory for people power.
The application by, JSB Forensics for Keeper’s Cot- tage in Weston Bank, led to outrage and opposition from villagers.
Applicant, psychiatrist Johanna Simpson Blake insists there had never been any such plans for vio- lent or sexual offenders. She said the plan was for a home for people with mild learning difficulties who had previously been in hospital and needed help with basic tasks.
But concerns arose when Ms Simpson Blake adver- tised her scheme on a website.
Residents in Weston, Salt and Hopton discovered her other company, Premier Psychological Care, dealt with patients offered treatment as an alterna- tive to prison and fears escalated.
They formed a residents’ association and posted 2,000 leaflets opposing the plan.
The property’s owners, Sue and Robert James, feared Ms Simpson Blake had not revealed the full extent of her plans and were unhappy for the scheme to continue.
Ms Simpson Blake has now withdrawn the plan from Stafford Borough Council.
She said: “It’s terribly sad really.”
“As a professional I would not have been bringing
people into the community if I thought they weren’t manageable or if I thought they would pose any risk or danger.
“I had lined up the best team of people to look after these men and give them the opportunity to lead a normal life.
“At the end of the day it’s up to the owners and I do understand why they’ve made the decision that they have.”
Mr and Mrs James said they were approached by Ms Simpson Blake and told she wanted to rent the house as a centre for harmless individuals with mild learning difficulties. She also assured them she would consult with residents.
Mr James said: “We are very proud of our family home and thought that it would be a wonderful set- ting conducive to helping people with learning dif- ficulties and we were pleased that it was to be used in such a beneficial way.
“We are deeply upset and disappointed that we did not find out about the actual intended use of the house sooner, as we would have been able to act before the situation escalated, causing unnec- essary anxiety and stress to local residents.
“As soon as we did find out about Johanna Simp- son Blake’s real intentions we immediately demanded the planning application to be with- drawn. We are sorry for any distress that may have been caused. This was never our intention.”
Peter Nadin, from the Salt, Hopton and Weston Residents Association, said: “People power has won the day.”