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Concerns over risk of death if vulnerable veterans facility in Gedney Hill isn't done right - as plans put on hold to ask for more detail

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Vulnerable veterans could be at risk of death if a new facility does not have the right professional support in place, according to concerned councillors.

South Holland District Council’s planning committee praised the principle of a new scheme for homeless veterans - but wanted more details on the 24/7 care for men on site, fearing a ‘tragedy’ if this was not handled correctly.

John Murray, of Christian charity Knights Templar, wants permission to establish ‘Project Dignity’ in Station Road, Gedney Hill - creating ‘barracks-style’ accommodation to reintegrate veterans into society.

John Murray has spearheaded the Project Dignity plans. (47111425)
John Murray has spearheaded the Project Dignity plans. (47111425)

Members had been recommended to support the plans by council officers - but instead voted in favour of deferring a decision to try to get more details on how veterans will be chosen and who would deliver care.

Coun Roger Gambba-Jones said he had personal experience of losing a friend who had post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and would be ‘ashamed’ if the council passed something it was uncertain over and it led to a death.

He said this application - whose general idea he supported - was dealing with people with ‘significant’ problems, adding: “Those problems may well lead to potential death if not properly managed at that time. I can tell you that now because I know.

“I want certainty - as best you can provide certainty - that should that situation arise the safety net is there as best it can be.”

Three members - Jim Astill, Rodney Grocock and Andrew Tennant - had voted in favour of the scheme, arguing veterans were owed support.

Coun Andrew Tennant said: “Considering as a council we were happy to raise the armed forces flag outside the building yesterday, I think it’s good we can do something positive - to do something for veterans in passing this plan.”

He added: “It may be that the Knights Templar are offering a service outside the mainstream but is that mainstream currently looking after people well enough? I don’t personally think it is.”

Coun Rodney Grocock said this could be a ‘Shangri-La’ and get veterans off the streets.

Coun Astill felt a 56-page document submitted with the project provided plenty of detail - but Coun Gambba-Jones felt a full business case was needed.

Coun James Avery - who said he did not have time to look at all supporting documents for every application - explained he did not get ‘comfort’ from the item referenced.

He said the detail was needed to show how veterans would be supported, adding: “Their mental health is of absolute paramount and in my mind that’s more important than the principle.”

Coun Christine Lawton cautioned ‘well meaning amateurs’ may not be good enough, meanwhile Coun Mick Seymour, ward member for Gedney Hill, said: “I am in favour of what they want to do but it’s in the wrong location.”

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