Residents in Leyland are calling for a facility for vulnerable adults to be closed down.
Lakeland House, on Bent Lane, opened four years ago on the site of the former Waggon and Horses Pub. The so-called “bridging unit” can house up to eleven individuals who are being prepared to live independently in the community.
But after the latest in what they say is a series of alarming incidents, some locals want to see the suburban centre shut its doors.
More than half a dozen police vehicles descended on the property on 12th May after staff became concerned for the safety of a resident who was later arrested on suspicion of causing criminal damage.
Lancashire Constabulary confirmed that they had been at Lakeland House for around three quarters of an hour before they detained a 21-year-old man who was later released under investigation.
The company which runs the facility, Next Stage, has described the incident as ”isolated” and said that there is “no level of risk to the local community”.
However, Bent Lane resident Trevor Williams claims emergency service callouts to the facility can run to more than a dozen a month and says neighbours on the street have “had enough”.
“We’ve had people walking around in a state of undress in the road and there was one occupant who was frightening an elderly lady by staring at her every time she went out of her house,” Mr. Williams said.
“Last week, we had police dogs here when the first officers on the scene obviously called for back-up.
“The community said we didn’t want this development four years ago, but we lost that battle and thought we should give it a chance.
“These people need help, I’m not saying they don’t - but there should be sufficient supervision for them,” he added.
Another Bent Lane resident, who did not want to be named, said he had “sympathy” with those needing the service, but “no sympathy with where it has been put”. He supplied the Lancashire Post and Leyland Guardian with a video of the incident as it unfolded (see above).
Lakeland House, which has on-site support staff, is described on its website as providing individuals with “the skills and knowledge they require to eventually go and live independently within the community”. It expects the process to take around 18 months.
It is an aspiration which Ken Jones, St. Ambrose ward councillor on South Ribble Council, supports “in principle”, as he did back in 2015 - but with a caveat.
“The central problem is government cuts to mental health support, which are forcing dedicated professionals to make difficult decisions and, in some cases, place unsuitable clients in community environments,” Cllr Jones said.
“I support Lakeland House and I know a number of local residents do as well, but not if it’s forced by financial cuts to take inappropriate clients - we cannot put other residents at risk.
"Lakeland House have been very co-operative and we are trying to work with them, because we want this to work for residents and members of the community."
Cllr Jones also said that reports by neighbours of an armed response to last weekend’s incident could probably be explained by the fact that officers identified as armed responders can now be deployed as part of general rapid response teams.
Lancashire Constabulary were unable to confirm if there had been an armed response to the callout on 12th May.
Jayne Graham, strategic head of service at Next Stage, said: “We work in partnership with local authorities and clinical commissioning teams and there are multi-disciplinary assessments carried out by professionals to ensure that the people who access our services are appropriate according to their needs.
“We can confirm that there was one incident on Sunday [12th May] that was dealt with appropriately according to our policy and procedures.
“Since the service opened in June 2015, I can confirm and evidence that neighbours [nor] members of the public have ever been placed under any level of risk.
“The service is appropriately staffed at all times [by staff] who are all trained to carry out the level of support required to meet the needs of the people that we support.
“We work with our colleagues in the emergency services on a regular basis to ensure that the people we support are kept safe and receive the appropriate support when needed,” Ms. Graham added.
Cllr Jones said that a pre-planned public meeting at Lakeland House, on 7th June at 11am, is open to anybody who wants to attend - but they must first contact him to register their interest, so that numbers can be accommodated.