‘We need tourists not drug addicts’

Councillor Paul Kelly wants a hotel to remain on the site.
Councillor Paul Kelly wants a hotel to remain on the site.

Plans to convert a hotel into a centre for people with addiction problems were rejected – because councillors want to bring tourists to Motherwell.

Hundreds of local residents objected to the residential unit on safety grounds and the proposal was turned down unanimously by North Lanarkshire Council’s planning committee this week.

However, Paul Kelly, the council’s depute leader, claimed community fears were not the main factor and insisted Motherwell can’t afford to lose a hotel if it’s serious about attracting visitors.

The Old Mill, off Braidhurst Street, had been lying empty after it ceased trading until it was bought by the charity Betel UK.

Council planners had recommended approval of the conversion proposal despite widespread local opposition. They insisted it would have “no significant detrimental impact” on the area and would safeguard the listed building.

The planning committee heard a plea from former heroin addict David Murphy who would be responsible for running the centre. He said Betel had helped him turn around his life and he wants now to assist others.

However, Councillor Kelly moved that the application be turned down. He said: “It’s nothing to do with Betel and the work they do. David Murphy’s story is inspirational.

“But in the Motherwell area we have aspirations to see a growth in tourism and critical to that are hotels. This is an ideal location for a hotel.”