CBC urged to take action over drugs ‘terror’ at Leighton Buzzard sheltered accommodation for elderly

Central Beds Council has “lost control” of a sheltered accommodation unit for the elderly in Leighton Buzzard – which is allegedly being used as a drop-off point for drugs.

Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 10:33 am
Updated Tuesday, 5th March 2019, 10:40 am

CBC-run Merlins Court, off Beaudesert, contains 27 flats, with the first two floors designated for elderly residents and the top floor for those with special needs.

One flat on the top floor has reportedly become over-run with criminal activity.

Merlins Court

Access keys have been cut and visitors are reported to be ringing the buzzer at all hours, carrying weapons and screaming abuse.

A brick was thrown through one elderly man’s window last year, “showering him with glass” as he lay in bed and there have also been allegations of drug-dealing and prostitution.

A source told the LBO: “This is bringing all types of people into the premises – there have been people with machetes, baseball bats and knives. Residents have had beer cans thrown at them and cleaned blood off the stairwells.

“When you are elderly, retired, in sheltered housing, you have every right to expect a quiet life, a quality of life - not to live in terror.”

Another added: “It’s an utter disgrace, the council have mounds of evidence of what’s happening and they’ve done nothing. There have been so many breaches of the residency contract.

“People in their 80s and 90s are being asked to give witness statements to the court, with no anonymity – can you imagine how intimidating that is? The council should never have allowed this set-up in the first place.

“Drugs come in to Merlins Court from London and there are kids on bikes who come to collect them.”

Three police raids have reportedly taken place at the problem flat. An attempt by CBC to prosecute the resident for 16 breaches of a community protection order failed in October 2018 due to lack of evidence, despite employing a warden to monitor the site.

MP Andrew Selous stated he was “flabbergasted” by the situation at Merlins Court and wrote to CBC and Beds Police last year urging them to take action.

In a response to Mr Selous dated May 21, 2018, Julie Ogley, CBC director of social care and housing, said: “This is a complex and ongoing case which the housing department, the police and the community safety team are working together to try and improve the situation for the residents affected.

“A letter was sent to the community safety team to all residents within Merlins Court requesting people to come forward and make statements in respect of the nuisance and anti-social behaviour they have witnessed.”

A CBC spokesman said: “Our housing and community safety teams are working closely with the police to support our tenants, whilst we investigate and respond appropriately to reported issues at Merlins Court.

“We encourage residents to seek support from their Independent Living Officer, whilst also reporting their concerns to us, so that we are able to keep a really close track of this situation, thereby enabling the council to take appropriate action, if right to do so, on the basis of evidence that can be presented in court.”

Sgt Liam Mitchell of the Leighton Buzzard policing team said: “Although reports of anti-social behaviour has decreased in Leighton Buzzard in the last year, we are aware of several anti-social behaviour incidents related to Merlins Court.

“Ourselves and Central Bedfordshire Council are aware of the ongoing issues in the area, and have been carrying out proactive work with both them and the local residents to address them.

“We have also put additional high visibility patrols in the area as a result and have more of these planned.

“Information from the community is absolutely vital in helping us to address issues and take action against those committing crimes,. If you are concerned about behaviour in your area, so we would continue to encourage residents across Leighton Buzzard to get in touch with us on 101 or via our online reporting centre.”