CAMPAIGNERS are calling on Home Secretary and Blackburn MP Jack Straw to back their fight to get plans to build a bail hostel blocked.

Residents and organisations claim the Blackburn hostel will add to the long list of problems plaguing the area around Clayton Street.

And opponents were furious when they discovered sex offenders could be housed in Clayton Street, despite the claims of Blackburn with Darwen councillors.

The area is known as a red light district and a centre for the illegal drugs trade.

And many people believe the problems of the area are made worse by three homeless hostels and a drop-in centre for young drug addicts.

People at a public meeting at West End Youth Club last night included residents from the Galligreaves Estate who said the bail hostel could prove to be the final straw.

The objectors have drawn up an action plan which includes writing to Jack Straw and lobbying councillors.

The Galligreaves District Community Association was one of the organisations which led the fight against a similar hostel in Sumner Street.

Chairman Winifred Simpson said: "This is a deprived area and we have already got two or three hostels and drop-in centres. That is enough pressure for any community to have to cope with."

Steve Nicholson, head teacher at St Anne's Primary School, said: "We have to voice our concern about this hostel and the safety of our children.

"Parents have already expressed concern about the drop-in centre at St Anne's Church."

Ron O'Keefe, a former youth club worker and magistrate, said: "This area has always had its problems with drugs and prostitutes.

"The current bail hostel has been in Preston New Road for the last 20 years without any problems. A bail hostel has to be built somewhere in the town."

George Pearce, chairman of West End Youth Club, added: "This bail hostel could mean the end of the club.

"All we need are one or two incidents and parents will not want to send their children here any more."

Converted for the new archive on 14 July 2000. Some images and formatting may have been lost in the conversion.