Fresh bid to reduce number of people sleeping rough on the streets of Northampton

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A new emergency shelter to take rough sleepers off the streets in Northampton is being set up by the borough council.

Last year, it was revealed that Northampton had more people living on the streets than targets initially set by the local authorities tackling homelessness.

The borough council has now bought the former British Rail Social Club in St Andrew’s Road.

A spokesman for the council said: “Because of its location near the site of Northampton Castle, the building will ultimately become part of a long-term project to celebrate Northampton’s heritage.

“But in the short-term, it will be used to provide emergency overnight shelter for people sleeping rough in the town.

“As the building has been disused for some time, the borough council will need to begin the process of applying for planning permission as a temporary shelter before clearing the building and making it suitable for emergency housing.

“The provision will be basic, intended to provide a safe and warm place to sleep overnight and facilities for simple refreshments,” he said.

“The shelter will then take rough sleepers off the streets overnight, while representatives from around 30 agencies from across Northampton work together to develop and sign up to a permanent strategy to tackle homelessness.”

At a meeting in February, the agencies agreed a new approach to tackle the causes of people becoming homeless, as well as the outcomes. There will be a further meeting at the end of April.

Councillor Mary Markham, leader of Northampton Borough Council, said: “There are about 25 people regularly sleeping rough in Northampton and we know from our own staff and those from other agencies who work with them regularly, that a large number of them are choosing to live on the streets and do not want to change.

“But street sleeping is dangerous for those who do it and we know that it causes public concern - both personally, for the people who sleep rough and also because of the anti-social behaviour that can be associated with it.

“When all the agencies met we agreed on one thing above all – that living rough is not a lifestyle choice we can accept or facilitate in Northampton. This shelter will provide a short-term solution to the problem of rough sleeping but now all the agencies will be working hard to find a more permanent answer.”