Council continues deal to use St Michael's Gate for Peterborough homeless families
More than 70 properties at the St Michael's Gate estate in Peterborough will continue to be used for homeless families after Peterborough City Council declined to break off a controversial deal.
The council signed a deal worth nearly Â£1 million a year with private housing firm Stef & Philips in 2016 to lease the homes as temporary accommodation for its rising homeless population.
The deal allowed the Conservative-run council to use the homes for three years, with the option of breaking off the arrangement 12 months earlier.
The signing of the contract sparked outrage at the time as the previous tenants of the properties had all been evicted by Stef & Philips and Paul Simon Magic Homes.
The latter owned the properties, with the former acting as the managing agents.
The council insisted that if it had not agreed to use the homes, another local authority would have moved their homeless families in their instead, leaving the council to pay for any services they needed.
Cabinet member for growth, planning, housing and economic development Cllr Peter Hiller confirmed at the recent Full Council meeting that the council will continue into a third year with Stef & Philips as the numbers of homeless families in Peterborough remains high.
The Peterborough Telegraph has reported recently about city families being sent to Travelodges in other parts of the country due to a shortage of suitable temporary accommodation for them in Peterborough.
Responding to a question from Labour East ward councillor Samantha Hemraj, Cllr Hiller said: “The council’s lease with Stef & Philips is two years with an option for a third which, given the continued demand for accommodation from households who are homeless, we will be entering into.
“Should the opportunity arise to purchase the properties we currently lease at St Michael’s Gate, the council will look seriously at the viability of such an arrangement as part of our normal due diligence approach.”
The PT recently revealed that the homes at St Michael’s Gate are up for sale. However, council deputy leader Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald told a public meeting that he believed each property had been sold off individually by Paul Simon Magic Homes, although it was added that this will not see anything change for the current tenants.
Two of the tenants at St Michael’s Gate have a long term lease so are not in temporary accommodation. One of those has recently seen their home bought from Paul Simon Magic Homes at an auction.
Families living in temporary accommodation on the estate for many months have also recently been given a permanent home to move into in Peterborough.
The next public meeting to discuss St Michael's Gate is scheduled to take place on Monday, November 12 from 7pm to 9pm at the Parnwell Community Centre in Saltersgate.
The meeting will discuss a new 12 point action plan from the council in response to complaints raised by tenants on the estate.