ALPHA HOSPITALS will not be going ahead with plans to use a house in Knaphill as a facility for vulnerable teenagers.
Residents had called an emergency meeting after finding out that the property – 14, Victoria Road – bought by the private mental healthcare company was not going to accommodate staff as the vendors and estate agents had been led to
believe – but to house five female patients.
Although Alpha refused numerous requests to send a representative, Woking Borough Council chief executive Ray Morgan, local councillors Melanie Whitehand and Saj Hussain, 38 residents and the News & Mail attended the meeting on Friday, July 6, at St Hugh of Lincoln Church in Victoria Road.
While fully appreciating the need to cater for the integration of Alpha’s vulnerable patients into the broader community, the Knaphill residents felt strongly that accommodating five 14 to 18-year-old female mental healthcare patients in a property where 23 young children live withinjust a four-house radius, was inappropriate.
An action group spokesman said: “We acknowledge these young adults need a place to live while they recover – no one is immune from mental illness – and we have learned that Alpha work closely with the NHS. But our priority is the safety of our own children and families already living here and we feel Victoria Road is unsuitable.”
At the meeting, Mr Morgan said: “I understand the stress caused. I am here to see if we can reconcile the situation. The house is not the same as the hospital. It is about moving people on in settled accommodation.”
He added that he would seek to secure a letter from Alpha to residents to outline the precise nature of use by Friday, July 13.
The spokesman said: “We feel it was a constructive meeting and were pleased to have the support of Ray Morgan.”
A statement last Friday from Alpha Hospital’s Zsara Thomas, said: “Alpha confirms it no longer plans to open a home at 14 Victoria Road. We remain committed towards providing much-needed mental healthcare for children in the community.”
Mr Morgan stated: “I have agreed to assist in finding accommodation in a less sensitive location to provide the essential support these people need.
“It was clear none of you wished to harm the young people Alpha were intending to support, you were just fearful and wanted to secure the safety of your own children.”