The first homeless families have moved into St Michael’s Gate in Parnwell as existing tenants pack their bags and move out.
As part of a hugely controversial deal signed by Peterborough City Council, four homeless families moved in last week and another seven are moving in this week.
Eventually, all tenants living at the 74 properties on the estate will be forced to depart, leaving behind what many describe as a “ghetto” as their homes are turned into temporary accommodation.
It all centres around housing firms Paul Simon Magic Homes, which bought the properties in the summer, and Stef & Philips, which is carrying out the eviction of the tenants.
The latter offered the homes to the council which desperately needs places to put up homeless families, so it signed a three-year deal worth nearly £3 million to rent the properties.
After renovations, the number of homes will rise from 74 to 98, some of which will be houses of multiple occupation.
But, just as families move into the estate others are leaving, including one pictured by the Peterborough Telegraph on Sunday loading a van.
And the anger in Parnwell over the deal refuses to go away with another petition having been launched.
Created by St Michael’s Gate resident Tony Roberts, the 38 Degrees petition asks Parliament to “change the law to prevent large companies from being able to buy large amounts of social housing (with tenants in) and then evict them to make millions in profit.”
The properties on the estate used to be social housing.
The residents are also later today creating banners for future protests. People can join them at Club Caliente at the Parnwell Centre, Saltersgate from 5pm.
St Michael’s Gate also featured on BBC’s The One Show last Thursday. Shortly before the TV package aired, presenter Alex Jones said viewers would be left “scratching their heads in disbelief.”
The council claims that if it did not rent the properties, another council would use them instead for their homeless population.
To sign the petition, visit https://you.38degrees.org.uk/petitions/stop-big-companies-profiting-of-people-s-misery.
Deal signed after petition hand-in
Peterborough City Council only signed its contract with Stef & Philips on November 2, it has been revealed.
The deal was finally signed a month after it was first revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph, and only after huge opposition.
The decision to sign a three-year deal with Stef & Philips was published by the council on September 30 but was called in by Liberal Democrat councillors.
However, the call-in failed after being voted down by four members of the Conservative group at a council scrutiny meeting.
A council spokeswoman said: “Once the decision became effective, council officers worked to finalise the lease agreement with Stef & Philips.
“This work was completed on November 2 and the lease was signed by both the council and Stef & Philips on the same day.”
Liberal Democrat councillor Darren Fower said: “I am sure that senior Tories at the Town Hall would like this to go away but it will not, and as for the fact that a contract has been signed, well if we can renegotiate contracts with Amey and Serco, why can we not do the same with this company who are essentially an estate agents?”
The lease was signed a day after a petition demanding a full council debate was handed into the council. The debate will be heard on December 14.
Despite repeated requests for an interview over the past three weeks, nobody from Stef & Philips has returned our calls.