Back at the end of January I received a number of letters about the emergency provision for rough sleepers in the town. I reported on it at the time. The letters were urging me to ensure that those sleeping in the open knew about the legislation which required that when the premature had fallen below a specified level for three consecutive night accommodation for them should be open. This is a pretty minimal requirement.
I made further inquiries and it transpired that the situation was significantly worse than I had imagined. Firstly we should state that under the terms of the legislation the number of people we are dealing with is small possibly as few of half a dozen drawn from a pool of twenty or so. The individuals are well known. As the council acts at present it fulfills its statutory obligation in a most unsatisfactory way. Essentially they have contracted to use emergency provision in Liverpool run by The Whitechapel Centre. Now let me be clear I have nothing against the Whitechapel,over many years I have known their projects and some of their staff. They do good work, but they do it in Liverpool 20+ miles away.
Apparently the Council meets the letter of the law merely by telling rough sleepers on the designated nights that they can go to a Church Hall in Crown St in the middle of Liverpool. The rough sleepers are meant to get themselves there. It is wholly inappropriate and I doubt anyone take up the meaningless offer.
I have discussed this issue with locally based charities who work in the field of homelessness and it is clear to me that a Sourtport base alternative is easily be established at minimal cost. I have raised this issue with the Chief Executive and I hope that there will be something positive to report soon