Nearly 18 months after the controversial St Michael’s Gate deal was first revealed, there are no second thoughts that the right decision was made.
The deal led to Peterborough City Council using 72 houses at St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell as temporary accommodation. It was done after private housing firm Stef & Philips, which manages the properties, began evicting the existing tenants before offering the homes to the council.
At the time, the council argued that if it did not use the homes a London borough would have taken them instead and brought their homeless families into the city, adding to the demand on services here.
Adrian Chapman, the council’s service director for community and safety, said the PT’s subsequent revelation that Barnet Council, through Barnet Homes, had bought 28 properties in Peterborough to use for its homeless families had backed up that assessment.
He said: “I am absolutely convinced, 100 per cent sure in fact, that those properties at St Michael’s Gate would have been occupied by people other than Peterborough residents.”
The PT has campaigned to stop councils being able to move homeless families around the country, and both Mr Chapman and Mr Evans said the business model of Stef & Philips “sticks in the throat.” Mr Chapman added: “We were very clear with government we were not happy with this operating model.”
Recently, city MP Fiona Onasanya and some Labour councillors raised concerns about the standards of some of the properties at St Michael’s Gate. The council has an officer who visits St Michael’s Gate several times a week, and Mr Chapman said: “We didn’t recognise most of the issues brought to us.”
However, in response to the complaints inspections of all the homes by “professional and independent” enforcement officers will now take place.