Shutting the Hope Centre 'is not the solution' for homeless people says Jeremy Corbyn on visit to Northampton today

Jeremy Corbyn met with service users during a visit to the Hope Centre today.
Jeremy Corbyn met with service users during a visit to the Hope Centre today.

Jeremy Corbyn has called on the owners of Oasis House to 'rescind' its decision to evict the Hope Centre during a visit to Northampton today.

The opposition leader met users of the homeless day centre in Campbell Street during his second tour of the facility in just over a year - stopping to watch garden tools being made in its Ash Street workshop before handing over £20 to buy a garden fork for his allotment.

Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Mr Corbyn, who still faces questions over claims he muttered 'stupid woman' in the House of Commons yesterday, said he was in full support of the bid to keep the centre open.

Landlords for the premises, Midland Heart, issued the Hope Centre with an eviction notice in October, but some 15,000 people have now signed a petition to keep it open.

Speaking from the centre today, Mr Corbyn said: "I am here to support the campaign and urge the housing association and the borough council to look again rescind that decision and keep the place open."

Mr Corbyn spent around 20 minutes talking to three users of the Hope Centre before taking questions from the media.

Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

Picture: Kirsty Edmonds

One previously homeless man told the Labour leader how he was forced to live in the Ibis hotel in Northampton before being referred to Oasis House. But the former engineer said the Hope Centre helped to get him back into employment.

Though Midland Heart says it will be able to increase the amount of temporary accommodation at Oasis House by evicting the Hope Centre - Mr Corbyn said the decision did not make sense.

"Yes we need more temporary accommodation but this is a centre that is already providing a lot of help and support for homeless and rough sleeping people," he said.

"To close this and tell them to find somewhere else is not a solution - that's setting one group of people in need against another group who are in need.

"Yes more accommodation is required - but you don't close a homeless centre in order to provide the accomodation."

The Labour leader said he would back the campaign to save the Hope Centre in any way he could. The petition was initially launched by his party's parliamentary candidate for Northampton North, Sally Keeble.

"I'm happy to talk to anybody," he said. "Because we want a solution that keeps this place open - I mean look at it, this place is vital.

"Look at the success of it look at the way people's lives are transformed - some pepople say it is their only lifeline."

Despite the campaign's backing from Labour, chief executive of the Hope Centre, Robin Burgess was keen to insist the battle to rescind the eviction was not being drawn on party lines.

"We will take support from wherever it can be found," he said.

"If a significant figure like the leader of the opposition wants to give his support - that's vital.

"I would be equally happy if Theresa May came to visit."

Speaking about his plans to help reduce homelessness under a Labour government, Mr Corbyn pledged to build 8,000 emergency homes, to impose tighter regulation on the private rents sector and to build more social housing.