No simple answer to homelessness in Peterborough

A rough sleeper
A rough sleeper
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No one should have to sleep rough in our city. There are always enough beds in our shelters and hostels to make sure this is the case, writes Peterborough City Council leader Cllr John Holdich.

However, reducing the number of rough sleepers is not as simple as just providing beds.

Each rough sleeper on our streets has their own individual story to tell. And as such needs individual support to help them into accommodation.

Did you know that the average life expectancy of a rough sleeper is just 47? That’s a good 30 years less than the national average and this is why our ultimate aim is to support those sleeping rough in getting off the streets for good.

Back in the autumn we teamed up with partners to help to launch the Safer Off The Streets campaign, aimed at ending rough sleepers in the city once and for all.

The scheme features a number of initiatives which are already making a positive difference. These include a new contactless card window outside the Argo Lounge in St Peter’s Arcade, allowing people to make instant, secure £3 donations.

In just over two months £2,345 has been pledged to the partnership and many rough sleepers have been supported in getting off the streets for good, which is a fantastic start!

On the subject of which, we were delighted to announce this week that 29 families have moved into brand new homes just in time for Christmas.

Following a 10 month build project by national homebuilders Countryside Properties, 10 three-bed and seven two-bed homes along with 12 one-bed apartments have been completed in Midland Road.

These are the first new affordable properties built by Medesham Homes, a Joint Venture partnership between the council and Cross Keys Homes.

The families who have moved in are all households who have found themselves homeless and up until now having been living in temporary accommodation.

Thanks to the dedicated work of our housing team we have reduced the number of households in temporary accommodation from 385 in August to 335 presently, which equates to a reduction of 12 per cent.

We also currently have no households in Travelodge accomodation outside of the city - there were 63 back in June.

So I would like to say a big well done to everyone involved and we will have some further exciting housing announcements to make in the new year.

The demand for new homes in Peterborough will continue to grow over the next 15 years, as we expect the city’s population to grow from around 200,000 to 235,000.

As discussed previously in this column, LDA Design has worked with us on a development framework - or blueprint - of what we think our city should look like in 2035.

It’s now online for you to comment on. Please take some time to have a look at the plan on our website at www.peterborough.gov.uk/CityCentreFramework and if you have any feedback, please email me at john.holdich@peterborough.gov.uk

Last week I paid a visit to the Royal Mail Centre in Werrington to see first-hand how the dedicated postmen and women were preparing for their busiest time of year.

We probably take their efforts for granted when we get deliveries, so I also thanked the staff their for their continued hard work.

Please remember that our council offices will be closed from noon today (Monday, December 24) until Wednesday, January 2, 2019. Visit www.peterborough.gov.uk for details on how you can make contact with us via telephone over the festive period.

Finally, I would like you wish you all a very Happy Christmas. It’s strange to think that the next column I write will be almost in 2019, where has the year gone?!