Dozens of homeless families moved into Peterborough from outside the city

Five councils outside of Peterborough have placed homeless households in the city over the past two years.

Monday, 12th July 2021, 4:59 am
Updated Monday, 12th July 2021, 6:10 am

Dozens of families have been placed in temporary accommodation from neighbouring authorities, as well as Barnet Council in London.

Some of the households remain in Peterborough today, while many have returned home.

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St Michael's Gate in Peterborough
St Michael's Gate in Peterborough

The revelation is a reminder of the St Michael’s Gate saga where more than 70 families were evicted from the Parnwell estate.

The managing agents for the properties - Stef & Philips - later struck a deal with Peterborough City Council to use the properties as temporary accommodation for the city’s homeless.

The council argued that if had not agreed the contract then Stef & Philips would have leased the homes to London boroughs to move their homeless households into.

Despite this, the Peterborough Telegraph revealed in 2017 that Barnet Council had bought 28 properties in Peterborough which it was using as temporary accommodation.

The PT recently contacted the city council about homeless households being moved into Peterborough after hearing that a B&B was being used by Fenland District Council for this purpose.

A spokesperson for the city council said: “The council were aware that homelessness households from Fenland had been placed in temporary accommodation in Peterborough. At the start of the Covid-19 pandemic all councils were advised to bring all known rough sleepers in off the streets.

“As a result, we worked with other councils to ensure that all the relevant support was in place so that these households placed in Peterborough would not overstretch local support services. These households were later rehoused in their original local areas as soon as alternative accommodation could be found.”

A follow-up enquiry from the PT established that since July 2019, five local authorities have notified Peterborough that they are using temporary accommodation in the city for their homeless.

These are: Cambridge City Council, Huntingdonshire District Council, South Cambridgeshire District Council, Fenland District Council and Barnet Council.

Councils are expected to notify fellow local authorities of any households they place inside their area.

A Fenland District Council spokesperson said: “The few homelessness households that were placed in temporary accommodation in Peterborough were supported by Fenland District Council commissioned support and rehoused in Fenland as soon as alternative accommodation became available.

“We kept Peterborough City Council regularly updated with the progress in regards to this, ensuring all parties were kept fully informed as we worked to get our clients quickly and safely rehoused.”

A spokesperson for Huntingdonshire District Council said: “In March 2020, as we were looking to secure hotel and B&B placements under the Government’s Everyone In scheme, we looked across Cambridgeshire for hotel and B&B accommodation that was staying open as many of these businesses were beginning to close down.

“We had occasionally used hotels in Peterborough in exceptional cases over previous years – this being a total of four times over the previous five years.

“We are still accommodating people under Everyone In, but our use of Peterborough businesses has reduced as we have successfully moved these people into more settled housing.

“We currently have five people placed with Peterborough hotels. These are in the city centre area. In total, we have placed 87 people in Peterborough over the past 14 months.

“We discussed with Peterborough City Council which businesses we were working with so that we did not affect the work it was also doing under the Everyone In initiative.”

A spokesperson for South Cambridgeshire District Council said they had been placing homeless families in Peterborough on occasions since 2012 and that the city council was always made aware of this.

He added: “This is always temporary, short-term accommodation in bed and breakfasts when there are not more local options available.

“We will always look to move them back to South Cambridgeshire as soon as we can.

“It is in the vast majority of cases single people. We are only allowed to provide accommodation outside of our area to people who agree to it.

“There are currently four single people that we are accommodating in bed and breakfasts in Peterborough.”

Peterborough City Council said it is “not possible to provide a live picture of current placements” as local authorities do not have to notify it when homeless families are moved out of the city.

The PT recently revealed that the council has resumed using hotels as temporary accommodation, although the authority hopes to end that practice soon.

Neither Barnet Council nor Cambridge City Council have responded to requests for comment.