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Group hits back as city home for vulnerable women refused

The director of a social enterprise group is furious after councillors voted against plans to house vulnerable women in Handsworth.

Kajans Womens Enterprise director Hermin McIntosh criticised Cllr Waseem Zaffar in particular after the group’s plan for a nine-bedroom shared accommodation for young women was rejected.

Ms McIntosh said Cllr Zaffar had led an ‘ignorant campaign’ to see plans for the temporary housing scheme, at 35 Wilson Road, fall apart.

Read more:Home for vulnerable women in Handsworth refused as 300 object

The venture would have provided living accommodation, companionship and support services for young women, aged between 18 and 25, transitioning into adulthood.

Venting her frustration at Lozells Community Forum after Birmingham planners shot down proposals three votes to two, Ms McIntosh said: “The controlled project would have had 24 hours of support.

“It was not about just putting a number of women in a building and leaving them to get on with it.

“It would be our job to transition those young women into adulthood by helping them with education and training and placing them into employment, or at least experience in a work environment.

The 35 Wilson Road address was once Kinder Palace Nursery

“But Cllr Zaffar saw it fit to object with 300 signatures, not that we ever saw them, but he said he had 300.”

Ms McIntosh added Kajans had put letters through every door on Wilson Road outlining plans before the project was rejected.

“Cllr Zaffar turned up at our public meeting and he was the first to say to local people: ‘we’re not supporting this because it’s a HMO ‘.

“I thought to myself, ‘can this man read?’. Why is he stirring up the issue and trying to say it’s a HMO. We didn’t apply for a HMO, so why was he doing this?”

The temporary housing scheme would have served individuals based in the Handsworth/Lozells area and North Birmingham.

Planning officials had recommended the proposals be given the green light despite concerns from local residents, with 300 people signing a petition against the plans.

Objectors were concerned the scheme would have a detrimental impact on the neighbourhood and increase anti-social behaviour and fly-tipping.

Cllr Zaffar said: “We want this very historical community asset to remain a community asset delivering vital services that are needed in this neighbourhood.

“I have a very personal connection to this building. I attended pre-school education there, I carried out religious education and my first ever full time job was at this building.

“I am someone who knows the importance of this building better than most.

“You will note in the application that WMP objected. Many issues that the police are having to deal with are due to premises with shared accommodation.”

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