A PLAN to use an outdoor education centre as emergency accommodation for homeless people during coronavirus has been criticised by residents – who were left with no idea about the proposal.

Monmouthshire council is proposing to use part of Gilwern Outdoor Education Centre to house up to nine homeless people until August 21, as increasing numbers of vulnerable people come forward for accommodation.

The local authority is required to safely house and support those who are rough sleeping as a result of the pandemic, to protect them and the wider community, and a report says there is a shortage of such accommodation in the county.


But residents living near the centre say the first heard they heard about the plans was in the press – despite a council report claiming they had been informed.

The council said there was a delay in sharing the information and has apologised.

Jon Crawley, chairman of the residents association at Crawshay Bailey Close, said: “Nobody in Crawshay Bailey Close or Oak Tree Lane had the faintest idea, and those are the only houses nearby.

“Apparently there is going to be a hand delivered letter to people now.

“They had no intention of telling us what was going on and they have tried to limit the damage.

“The whole thing stinks.”

Mr Crawley said there are concerns about housing homeless people near the estate which has around 20 young children.

He said the people placed in the accommodation will include those who have mental health, substance abuse and offending behaviour issues.

“The fact that Monmouthshire council feel the need to employ security guards is evidence enough that the people housed there will pose a risk to others immediately around them,” he said.

Ward councillor Simon Howarth also criticised the council over its handling of the proposal.

“I am absolutely furious with the way this has been carried out,” he said. “There has been no consultation and no dialogue.

“We are human beings and we are compassionate. We will and we do realise that it’s not easy, but let’s have a conversation.”

He also called on the council to consider other sites to provide accommodation for the homeless, saying the outdoor centre is too far from facilities in the village to be suitable.

“It’s totally out of place to house people in that facility, it’s away from everything,” he said. “There are far better sites in Monmouthshire.”

A spokeswoman for Monmouthshire council said: “Due the current situation, we understand there has been a delay in residents being informed of the proposals before the information was shared publicly.

“We apologise for any upset or concern this has caused our residents.

“Management and security measures will be in place and have been arranged to seek to reassure the local community not alarm them.

“Providing people who are facing homelessness during this difficult time is of utmost importance to us and we are grateful for the compassion and understanding shown by members of the local community.”