Taking rough sleepers off streets

John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123
John Holdich ENGEMN00120131211162123
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Cllr John Holdich, leader of Peterborough City Council

At the beginning of the year I made a commitment to look at whether there is anything further we could do to prevent people becoming homeless, or to encourage rough sleepers to accept our support.

To that end, I set up a cross-party rough sleeping task and finish group, led by Independent - Werrington First councillor Stephen Lane, which last week began its investigations by going on a walkabout of the city centre to see the issues first hand.

After hearing about the support our housing team currently provides and the shelter accommodation offered by Axiom Housing Association and faith groups as part of the Light Project, they went out onto the streets of the city centre to speak to people who are sleeping rough.

The people that they came across knew about the night shelter accommodation and had used it and also shared their experiences of how they had found themselves in the situations they were in.

One lady told us that she was living on the streets because her privately rented home in Welland was in such a poor state.

As a result we’ve arranged for a housing enforcement ​officer to visit her home. If it is found to be in an unsuitable condition she will be offered emergency accommodation and we will contact her landlord to discuss bringing the premises to a suitable, liveable state.

Our rough sleeper outreach worker regularly goes out onto the streets in the early morning to talk to people like this lady who are sleeping rough to offer support.

This is achieving good results with 27 rough sleepers swapping the streets for a better life since April last year. You may have seen the clips we posted on our social media pages last week which showed two of the people our housing team has supported to leave the streets, Chris and Thomas. They are both now rebuilding their lives and Thomas now has a job which is fantastic.

But the sad fact remains that some people refuse to accept help for a number of different reasons. We never give up on those people and persistently try and work with them. Although housing is at a premium, the fact remains that there is no need for anybody to sleep rough in Peterborough. Not every town and city adopts this approach.

There are a range of services and options that are made available and offered to every rough sleeper, including the winter night shelters run by Axiom Housing Association and the faith groups, and support for those who are struggling with mental health issues or are reliant on drugs or alcohol.

Homelessness is an emotive issue and one that requires a different approach for every individual. We’ve helped 27 rough sleepers to leave the streets in the past nine months and I’m confident that our approach and the work of the cross-party group will allow us to continue changing lives for the better.

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Our trading standards team deserves a pat on the back this week for securing a conviction against a man for selling thousands of pounds worth of fake designer goods.

Mohammed Imran Malik (26) of Star Road, Peterborough, was handed a sentence of 100 hours of community service at Peterborough Crown Court on Tuesday after he admitted to seven offences under the Trade Marks Act 1994 relating to the sale and supply of counterfeit items at the Wellington Street car park weekly car boot sale.

The investigation by our trading standards team is a great example of our officers’ work to protect the public from unscrupulous traders and stamp out illegal business practices.

The sale of fake goods is not only damaging to the brand owners, but also to the legitimate Peterborough businesses who are trading fairly but being undercut by those who think it’s okay to sell counterfeit goods.