A BOURNEMOUTH councillor spoke out on behalf of bedsits as her colleagues rejected plans to create more in the town centre.

Cllr Gina Pacifico-Mackin said she was "disappointed" at the perception that all houses in multiple occupations are run badly and created problems in communities.

She was the sole voice in support of plans to convert a language school in Verulam Place into two HMOs, offering a total of 14 bedsits.

Nine members of Bournemouth's planning board voted against the plans, while Cllr Pacifico-Mackin opted not to vote.

Cllr Pacifico-Mackin, herself an HMO owner, said the town centre location was not suitable for families but was a good location for HMOs. She said: "I'm just a little bit disappointed that everybody thinks HMOs are run badly throughout the town. I run a perfectly good HMO and so do lots of people that I know.

"Why do we presume that whoever runs these HMOs will do a bad job? Just because you've got a lot of people living together in one place doesn't mean they will be bad apples."

But other members of the planning board disagreed. Council policy currently restricts the numbers of new HMOS in areas like Verulam Place where there is already a high concentration of such properties, but because the building earmarked for conversion is a language school and not a residential property, the rules do not apply.

Town centre Cllr Bob Chapman said: "The last thing we need is more HMOs in the town centre. They are already for too many badly managed HMOs in the Old Christchurch Road, Lansdowne and West Cliff areas."

Cllr Phil Stanley-Watts said: "There is already a proliferation of HMOs in this area and it doesn't enhance the town centre in any way whatsoever."

And Cllr Pat Oakley, who represents Winton which has a very high proportion of HMOs, said: "At a rough guess I would say the density of HMOs in Verulam Place is 50 per cent. There is a tipping point where the problems that are inherent with them - antisocial behaviour, litter and parking issues - are exacerbated.

"We would be wrong to grant this application."