SOUTH Basildon MP Stephen Metcalfe has suggested he is happy for the controversial Felmores bail hostel to move to the town centre.
The Tory MP accused Basildon’s Labour group of blocking the move of the hostel, which houses sex offenders and some of the county’s most dangerous excons or suspected crooks, to a former car park, off Roundacre and Laindon Link.
However, Labour councillor Gavin Callaghan said the site had already been rejected by Malcolm Buckley, former Tory councillor for regeneration, and would not meet the requirements of the probation service.
It came after an email spat with Mr Callaghan, who is set to challenge Tory MP John Baron for his Basildon and Billericay seat at the General Election next May.
Mr Callaghan suggested Mr Metcalfe use an opportunity to question Prime Minister David Cameron in Parliament to ask the government for “a solid commitment”
to ensure the Ministry of Justice works with Basildon Council to find and fund a new site for the hostel.
Row: Gavin Callaghan
Mr Metcalfe said: “My understanding of the current situation is I have done my bit and got numerous confirmed commitments to move the premises if an alternative site were found.
Basildon Council has done its bit and found an alternative site away from the problems with the existing site, so the only barrier is you and your colleagues blocked this going forward.
“I think rather than waste my question confirming what we have already confirmed, I would suggest you back the move to a more suitable site and stop trying to play politics with people's genuine concerns.”
Mr Callaghan said: “The probation service in its previous form was absolutely clear they would not move the hostel from one location which was near to schools, pubs and residential areas, to another location near to schools, pubs and residential areas. As a Loughton resident, I’m not sure how familiar you are with the geography of Basildon, but I can tell you, the site which was offered and outright rejected by Malcolm Buckley himself, would have immediately failed to get past go with the probation service.”
He said he believed it was worthwhile raising national awareness of the unsuitability of the current site through the question which would encourage the ministry to “actively engage in the relocation endeavours of the council.”