A woman found dead in Peterborough city centre this morning has been named locally as one of Peterborough's most colourful rough sleepers.
According to several sources locally, Valerie Collins was found dead in the car park in St Peter's Road behind Peterborough Town Hall this morning, Monday March 5.
A Cambridgeshire Police spokesman said: "At 7.34am police attended a medical episode at St Peter’s Road, Peterborough."
A spokesman for the East of England Ambulance Service said: "We were called just after 7am today to a report of a woman who was not breathing.
"An ambulance crew, rapid response vehicle, and ambulance officer were dispatched to the scene.
"Sadly, the patient died at the scene."
Valerie was well known in the city, having set up a display of plants in the entrance of shops in Bridge Street.
The mother of two spent months living out of bins with her sleeping bag, pot plants and pram all squeezed into her small living space.
Having left Ramsey, Valerie spoke to the Peterborough Telegraph in November 2016, explaining her motive to live in Bridge Street was “just to observe life, what people are doing, how they act and what makes them tick.”
Valerie, who grew up near Worcester, said she had two daughters and two grandchildren.
“I told them I was off camping. Mum does what she wants to do,” she said in 2016.
Her decision to come to Bridge Street was because “people have gotten worse,” and she wanted to observe them in their daily life.
She told the PT she had encountered a few “nutty ones in the evening,” and claims to have observed animals who are more pleasant.
Formerly a shorthand typist, she said she had previously lived out of bins for eight months, adding: “I can live like a king or queen from those bins. People waste clothes and shoes - that’s a prime example of how England fails.”
The council, she said, had given her a “silent understanding” that she can stay.
Back in 2016, a council spokeswoman said Valerie had refused offers of support. She added: “If she chooses to sleep rough there is very little we can do to prevent this. We have no record of any complaints being made about her and as far as we are aware she does not beg or cause anti-social behaviour. Therefore she is not breaking any laws.”