A ROW has flared after a councillor at Warrington produced a video criticising the borough council’s development management committee for deferring a decision on plans for eight emergency beds for rough sleepers.
Cllr Tom Jennings made the video outside James Lee House – Warrington’s Salvation Army hostel – and posted it on Facebook
In it, he criticises councillors “who had homes to go to after the meeting” for delaying a decision and not approving plans for providing the extra bedrooms in James Lee House.
He claimed the proposals were for new beds, showers, toilets, hot meals, drinks and snacks, laundry facilities and crucially, professional support to help vulnerable people back up on their feet.
Cllr Jennings said anyone going through the town could see the scale of the issue – homelessness and rough sleeping – and said he had raised it time and time again.
“Something has got to be done,” he said – and called on people to back his campaign by signing an online petition.
“Together, we can urge these councillors to approve these new beds and help tackle homelessness in our tow.”
As already reported by Warrington-Worldwide, the planners deferred a decision for more information after being told the eight beds were not to be additional provision but were to replace the 10-bed Room at the Inn facility which has been providing accommodation for the homeless for seven years.
Now Room at the Inn’s management committee has issued a statement in response to Cllr Jennings’ video.
Spokesperson Karen Blenkinsop said: “The councillors on the planning committee deferred making a decision on the proposed shelter at James Lee House as it was unclear if it was an addition to homelessness provision in Warrington or if was intended as a replacement service to Room at the Inn,
“ We had suspicions that our £36,000 Supporting People contract with the council would be stopped if the James Lee House shelter went ahead, effectively pulling the plug on our services and leaving the town with only the proposed eight bedded facility, with no showers, no kitchen, no staff, (only via CCTV) , no day time provision and one toilet between eight mixed-sex service users.
“This will make it very difficult for us to provide our service which operates for 20 hours a day 365 days a year and provides good value for money, offering services that James Lee House and Housing Plus don’t.
“We fear for the safety of the homeless community in Warrington without our service.”
“The council have said that we have only four rough sleepers in Warrington, following a recent count by the police. However, we take issue with this, as we know of at least eight people sleeping rough in Warrington. The situation will become even worse if are not able to provide a service. The planning committee were doing their jobs correctly in wishing to seek clarification and they also had issue with the basic nature of the proposed facility, especially if it was to replace Room at the Inn.”
Cllr Amanda King said it was a shame the video had been produced and said it should be taken down immediately.
The planning committee took its role very seriously and asked that the extra room should be in addition to and not as a replacement for Room at the Inn.
She said: “Room at the Inn provides a great service -one I have witnessed first hand. Personally I would like to see Room at the Inn continue to be supported and grow from strength to strength, and also see other services expand in the town. “
The video can be seen below:
Add your voice 👉 www.backthebeds.comJoin my campaign to back the building of 8 new emergency beds in #Warrington to tackle homelessness and rough sleeping in our town.
Posted by Cllr Tom Jennings on Monday, December 4, 2017