BEIRUT hostage Terry Waite today launched a scathing attack on residents who scuppered plans for a hostel for the homeless at Selby.

Mr Waite, president of the charity behind the project, accused the objectors of being "Nimbys" and narrow-minded.

Bosses at the Emmaus charity announced last week that they were withdrawing their planning application to convert Barlby Farm into a hostel.

The controversial proposal sparked a public outcry, with angry residents claiming the hostel could house sex offenders, paedophiles and ex-drug addicts.

But Mr Waite said today that the decision was Selby's loss because it would have been an enormous asset to the area.

Speaking from his home in Cambridgeshire, he told the Evening Press: "I'm sorry for the people of Barlby because there was nothing to be frightened about.

"No one can ever say there will never be problems, but it's far better to have vulnerable people living in a responsible way under supervision, rather than getting into mischief.

"It's a setback because a lot of work had gone into the Barlby Farm plans, but some people don't want to hear the truth and won't listen to arguments in favour of it.

"Unfortunately there are such people in every community - it's a 'not in my back yard' attitude.

"I just wish the vision of the local residents was a little broader."

Mr Waite added: "It's no good sitting back and leaving the homeless problem to the Government. If we want a better society for all of us, then we all have to put our backs into it.

"These hostels aren't doss houses or dumping grounds for disreputable people.

"We have an Emmaus community, in Cambridge. It includes a shop which is an Aladdin's cave selling renovated furniture and trinkets to the benefit of families on low incomes."

Objector Shaun Gautrey said today that Mr Waite was out of touch with the real world.

He said: "We have a bad enough drugs problem around here without adding to it.

"We strongly believe these hostels should be inner city areas where they can be better policed, rather than off the beaten track."

Updated: 17:03 Thursday, October 31, 2002