Council leader appears to rule out homeless encampment called for by petition with 1,000 signatures

The leader of Northampton Borough Council appears to have ruled out setting up a safe area for rough sleepers that more than 1,000 people called for in a petition

Thursday, 30th January 2020, 8:01 am
Updated Thursday, 30th January 2020, 8:15 am

In June last year, relentless campaigner Dagmar King, 72, handed in a petition at The Guildhall which called for a ‘transit facility’ where homeless people can have access to facilities.

The petition was signed by more than one thousand people, but borough council leader Jonathan Nunn appeared to rule out the idea after being asked for an update on the proposals by Liberal Democrat leader Sally Beardsworth.

In a written question to the leader, Councillor Beardsworth asked: “The petition asked the council to take action to deal with the increasing number of rough-sleepers and homeless people having to sleep in the open or in tents around our town. In particular, the petition asked for the council to look at providing sites where people would feel safe and where there are basic sanitary facilities.

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Council leader Jonathan Nunn gave an update on the proposals at a recent meeting

“Can the leader of the council tell me what progress the borough council and its partners have made towards providing somewhere safe and clean for the ever growing number of people forced to seek refuge on our streets?”

Responding to the question in writing, the details of which were published at last Monday’s full council meeting (January 20), Conservative leader Councillor Nunn said: “The petition proposed a transit facility that will help persistent rough sleepers with the first step on their journey to a better life.

“This proposal - for a dedicated site where homeless people can bed down and set up their tents - has been discussed, on a number of occasions, with the organisations working with people who are sleeping rough.

“Most of these organisations, including NAASH and the Hope Centre, have expressed the view that, based on their knowledge and experience, most rough sleepers would not want to live together on one site. They have also expressed concerns about the security of the site and the unintended consequences of creating an extra barrier to people coming of the streets.”

The petition was handed in by Northampton campaigner Dagmar King

Councillor Nunn added that he had asked officers to arrange for Mrs King to meet with himself, Phil Harris - the council’s director of housing and wellbeing - and local homelessness services to discuss the matter and ask any questions.

Mrs King, from Abington, delivers her home-cooked pastries to rough sleepers, and has started a new project to make bags for female rough sleepers that would contain sanitary towels, wet wipes and deodorant.