Luton Borough Council denies attempt to move its homeless people into St Michael's Gate in Peterborough

Luton Borough Council has denied that it wanted to move its homeless people into St Michael's Gate where tenants from 74 properties are being evicted.

Friday, 21st October 2016, 2:41 pm
Updated Tuesday, 25th October 2016, 5:00 pm
Public meeting about St Michael's Gate in Parnwell. Left to right: Cllr Wayne Fitzgerald, Stewart Jackson MP and ward councillors Cllr Azher Iqbal and Cllr Marcus Sims

MP for Peterborough Stewart Jackson said he had been told by Peterborough City Council that if it did not rent the properties, “Luton Borough Council will decamp their homeless people to this area.”

The tenants at St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell are being evicted by the firms Paul Simon Magic Homes and Stef & Philips, with the number of properties increased to 98 after renovations.

Peterborough City Council has now signed a deal to pay nearly £1 million a year to Stef & Philips to use the properties as temporary accommodation for homeless people in the city.

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But senior council officials have always insisted that if they did not rent the properties, another council would jump in, leaving Peterborough short of temporary accommodation and having to use Travelodges to plug the gap.

The suggestion that Luton Borough Council was one of the authorities sniffing around St Michael’s Gate was rebuffed by Labour city councillor Jo Johnson, who told a scrutiny committee on Wednesday (October 19) that she had been told by the borough council that it had no interest in the properties.

This was confirmed by a borough council spokesman, who said: “The council has not made an approach for St Michael’s Gate, Peterborough and has no intention to do so.”

Wednesday’s meeting also saw claims that Stef & Philips had acquired properties in Milliners Court, Luton and offered them to the borough council to rent.

It was claimed that because Luton took too long to make a decision, Stef & Philips instead rented the properties out to Barnet Council.

This was used as evidence by Peterborough City Council officers and senior councillors that other authorities would rent the St Michael’s Gate properties if they did not rent them first.

A Luton Borough Council spokesman said: “Luton council was involved in discussions regarding Milliners Court last year, but it was decided not to proceed for commercial reasons.”