THE owner of a homeless hostel that housed the killer of an elderly Edinburgh grandmother has applied to renew its licence – prompting an official objection from the Lord Provost.
Wendy Halstead, owner of a bed-and-breakfast in Longstone Road in the west of the city, has applied for a renewal of her property’s house in multiple occupation (HMO) licence.
Killer Kevin Rooney was placed in the B&B unsupervised only days before raping and murdering 74-year-old Rosina Sutherland in a nearby sheltered housing complex in October last year.
Last month, two occupants were hospitalised when a man blew up his bedroom at the property after sniffing cans of gas before lighting a cigarette – the latest in a series of disturbances.
Today, Lord Provost Donald Wilson, Labour member for Sighthill and Gorgie, revealed he had written twice to the council’s licensing department calling for the application to be rejected because the hostel’s occupants were not being properly supervised.
The application has drawn a furious reaction from neighbours, who said they were “scared” and “worried” at the prospect of the hostel continuing to operate.
The Lord Provost also told the News he would push for the council to cut its ties with the hostel as part of arrangements for housing people in need of temporary accommodation.
He said: “It’s quite clear there has been a series of incidents there. Local people feel very strongly that this hostel is a blight on the area and should not be allowed to continue operating. And as far as I am concerned, there have been sufficient incidents of a serious nature that the council should have no further dealings with this hostel.
“It should not be included on a list of recommended establishments for homeless people.”
He added: “I know an investigation is under way to look at how effective monitoring of residents at the property is and how it could be tightened up.”
Alexander Allan, 57, a Longstone Road resident, backed the Lord Provost’s call and said: “As far as I am concerned, the people going into that house have not been vetted.
“There was the lad who murdered and raped that old woman who was put there – and it’s less than 50 yards from a nursery. There was a stabbing there not long ago and then one of the windows was blown out only two weeks ago.
“I know a lot of older people and people with children round here are scared.”
Thomas Melville, 80, who also lives on Longstone Road, added: “I have spoken to quite a few neighbours and they are not happy about that place being there. The old people in the sheltered housing are worried. One of the people down there was murdered by one of the people in that hostel.”
Ms Halstead was contacted by the News but declined to comment.