A CHARITY boss has hit out after council planning chiefs blocked his plans for a foodbank in Port Glasgow.

David Smith, pictured far right, who runs Port Glasgow Training Initiative, wanted to operate the service and a drop-in facility from an empty flat in Robert Street.

But the application was down turned once by the planning board in June — and rejected again recently after the businessman asked for a review.

Mr Smith has criticised the decision, saying the facility would have helped local people at a time of need.

He added: “People are suffering in Port Glasgow. There is very little in the way of assistance in this town.”

He said he was shocked that one of the objections had been lodged from another foodbank.

Mr Smith, who owns 30 properties on the Clune Park estate, said: “It’s like foodbank wars. I wouldn’t be taking away any of their donations.

“I have run my charity for 17 years and it has been self-funded.

“I think 100 per cent there is a need in this area, but you require to have premises that are open to the public, a drop-in where you can build up relationships in the community.”

He says many people are struggling and turn to alcohol at their lowest ebb.

Mr Smith said: “It’s just despair, and that makes their problems worse. Every supermarket is a foodbank, but only if you’ve got money in your pocket.

The initiative had been pledged financial support from Mark Graham who runs Optimo Letting, local landlord Gordon Ewing, of Sovereign Investments and Robert Whalley, of Greenock Alcohol Support Project.

Mr Smith said: “None of us can understand the council’s decision to refuse when we are just trying to do some good.”

The charity chief owns the block and lets out eight of the flats for training purposes. His charity works with groups of young people to teach them how to run a house and balance their bills.

The application was turned down due to his request for a change of use in a residential area.

He said: “We are a group who thought that opening a foodbank would bring some life back into the area.

“My plan was to extend my charity, hoping that another foodbank would assist.”

A council spokesman said: “The applicant was looking to change the use of a residential property. That change would have breached planning policies over the impact on residential areas.

“The location is also part of what is known as an ‘area of potential change’ and granting this application could, potentially, have jeopardised the long term redevelopment of the wider area.”