Council chiefs could force homeless camp in Northampton park to leave

The camp currently has a parasol, chairs and what appears to be a sofa.
The camp currently has a parasol, chairs and what appears to be a sofa.

The people living in a series of tents and shacks in a Northampton park have refused beds at the town's night shelter, according to a council official.

In recent days, people using Midsummer Meadow have contacted the Chronicle & Echo to complain about the state of the park.

One of the tents in Midsummer Meadow.

One of the tents in Midsummer Meadow.

Around five tents have been pitched up close to the Bedford Road side of the park, while there is also a makeshift shack accompanied by a sofa and parasol near to the riverbank.

Needle wrappers have been found surrounding the camp.

Cabinet member for housing on Northampton Borough Council, Councillor Stephen Hibbert (Con, Riverside) says the people living there have chosen not to engage with outreach workers.

He said: “Our street outreach team is really proactive and regularly visits the groups of individuals sleeping at Midsummer Meadow and in the doorway of Poundland. Currently, the groups are not engaging with our team or, indeed, other support services.

A needle package left near the scene.

A needle package left near the scene.

“We don’t tolerate anti-social behaviour in the town so have been working with partners to consider appropriate enforcement action.

“In the meantime, we will keep offering them advice and assistance and hope that they will eventually accept and make use of the services available to them.”

The recent encampment comes as the borough council is struggling to engage a group of people residing in the doorway of the former Poundland in Abington Street.

Last year, Northampton Borough Council pledged to bring the number of rough sleepers in town down “as close as possible” to zero. As it stands, an estimated 25 people sleep rough in Northampton."

It was this strategy that led to the opening of the night shelter, in St Andrew’s Road, a communal space with showers, hot food and sleeping space for 20.

However, the Chron's special report in last week's edition highlighted how the council is struggling to make that vision a reallity.

Since it opened, the night shelter has never been at full capacity.

Councillor Hibbert said: “Some rough sleepers will convince themselves they belong on the streets. No one should have to sleep rough in Northampton. We will not turn anyone away.”