THE leader of Bournemouth council received a grilling on the Boscombe Regeneration Project at a community question and answer session on Saturday.

Cllr John Beesley spoke at Boscombe Forum before opening the floor to questions, with many residents attending to find out more about the council’s plans to improve the area.

He estimated that it may take 10 to 15 years for work on the regeneration project to be completed and said that Bournemouth council was committed to buying HMOs that were not fit for purpose.

These would then be turned into family flats, which had already happened on three occasions.

Ralph Grundy, a resident and a landlord of two HMOs in the area, said: “I think that Cllr John Beesley was on the right track today.

“His main focus was on improving housing in Boscombe, which is fine, but my point was that if the standard isn’t already there, it won’t improve in the future.

“I have found that some of the bedsits in Boscombe aren’t as good as the cells in Alcatraz, which I recently visited.”

Cllr John Beesley said afterwards: “I believe that we are putting more focus on Boscombe than ever before, and that is almost disproportionate to other areas of Bourne-mouth.

“I think for the first time, we have a strategy that is going to serve the people of Boscombe well, but it will take time.”

Harry Seccombe, vice-chair of Boscombe Forum, also said after the meeting: “Cllr John Beesley was pretty reluctant to put a time frame on the regeneration project, and said that it could bring bureaucracy if he put a date on it.”

Harry added that he felt disappointed that many questions did not receive a real answer, and Cllr Beesley’s focus was more on housing, but less on community engagement.

Boscombe Forum chairman, John Browne, also asked Cllr Beesley about the ‘shocking’ Ofsted report into Boscombe schools, and the leader of the council responded that the figures were not current and were actually three years old.