Government is lobbied on PT’s St Michael’s Gate campaign

Residents of St Michael's Gate gather from a protest against eviction. EMN-161113-171451009
Residents of St Michael's Gate gather from a protest against eviction. EMN-161113-171451009
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A Peterborough Telegraph campaign to prevent large numbers of people being made homeless has been brought to the attention of a cabinet minister.

The PT has been calling on the Government to prevent a repeat of the St Michael’s Gate saga, where dozens of families lost their homes so they could be replaced by people who were already homeless.

The episode, which the PT exclusively revealed, drew widespread condemnation from leading city figures and forced a debate in Parliament.

Now, little over a year since the St Michael’s Gate deal was first made public, Communities Secretary Sajid Javid has been lobbied on the issue by Lord Porter, chairman of the Local Government Association, the body which represents local authorities.

The Conservative peer has previously stated that reading the PT’s coverage of the St Michael’s Gate episode convinced him the LGA should push for a change in the law.

He said: “I have raised it with Sajid but have not yet got a sense of what he will do.

“There’s a Green Paper out soon so it may play in there.”

A Green Paper is a government consultation document for people to give feedback on policy or legislative proposals.

Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich, who has also backed the PT’s campaign and spoken to Lord Porter about the issue, said: “I’m frustrated by the progress. I know these things take a long while to go through the process but it’s frustrating.”

However, he added: “I’m encouraged that the LGA have taken it up with the appropriate minister. I’m hoping it will be in the forthcoming Green Paper.”

The LGA is lobbying for legislation so large groups of people cannot be evicted from a single area. The PT asked the Department for Communities and Local Government what Mr Javid thought of that idea.

A spokesman for the department replied: “The Government recognises that people want the security of a stable home.

“That is why landlords must provide shorthold tenants with two months notice for possession and cannot be made to leave within the first six months of their tenancy.”

The story of St Michael’s Gate

Seventy-two households were evicted by Stef & Philips which then negotiated a three-year deal worth nearly £1 million a year with Peterborough City Council so the authority could use the homes as temporary accommodation for homeless families. The council said if it had not agreed the contract the firm would have signed a similar deal with another local authority.

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