It’s not right to ship out homeless

Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
Peterborough Telegraph's Man behind the mic column by Paul Stainton, BBC Radio Cambridgeshire host - peterboroughtoday.co.uk
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The last time Barnet sent one of its residents to Peterborough, he came via Southend and Birmingham and ended up saving the football club, allegedly.

Barry Fry’s journey was a positive one (for some) but the latest exodus from the London borough, to our fair city, has not been as welcome and for obvious reasons.

On a moral front, it cannot be right that a council like Barnet can ship out its homeless and deposit them willy-nilly around the country, just to save cash.

It’s ethnic cleansing, but for the homeless; people like you and I, who have fallen on hard times, being treated like cattle and sometimes being pressurised into moving miles away from their families and friends. I am not sure how the people in charge of this process actually sleep at night.

These are vulnerable people with real problems, who are being treated as a commodity, sent out of sight and out of mind, left to fend for themselves, whilst another authority (Peterborough) picks up the pieces. And the bill.

Official guidance states that councils must, where practical, place families in the borough in which they are resident, but housing charity Shelter says authorities in London are now moving people out of the area ‘as a matter of course,’ because it’s cheaper – It’s not about people, it’s about money. Now where have we heard that before?

Barnet have previously sent hundreds of their homeless to places like Birmingham and Luton and now it’s Peterborough’s turn, and there is little the council can do to stop them. This is not another St Michael’s Gate, the 28 homes that currently house Barnet’s homeless, were not bought through a third party.

Instead they just popped into the local estate agents and snapped up a load of three-bed semis in Bretton, Orton Goldhay, Westwood and Ravensthorpe, for around £130,000 – cheap as chips compared to London. They might make a few bob off the back of the homeless when the prices go up! Short of buying every property on the market and driving up house prices, there is virtually nothing that Peterborough City Council can do to stop the practice.

Even if their £15 million hotel loan was used instead to build 5,000 affordable homes, in the next 12 months (yeah, right), there is nothing to stop London boroughs just buying them up and transferring their problems and the ensuing financial burden, to Peterborough.

The kicker is that the city council doesn’t get any extra money to take care of all these new people, in fact you will be paying for it, when money is diverted away from the services you require, to pay for the added influx and their undoubted extra needs.

And you cannot make provision for schools, health or social care because you do not know when these people will be shipped cross country to their new homes, or how many there will be. So, the people in desperate need suffer and the council tax payers of Peterborough suffer; the whole sordid practice is obscene on so many levels and must be stopped - and stopped now.

I urge everyone involved to examine their conscience.