Never again! That is the message from Peterborough City Council as it bids to prevent another episode like the one unfolding at St Michael’s Gate.
After huge anger at the evictions of families from 74 homes at the estate in Parnwell, council leader Cllr John Holdich has written to the Local Government Association chairman, Lord Gary Porter, to lobby for the issue to be addressed nationally.
The tenants at the homes are being evicted by Stef & Philips, with the council then paying the firm nearly £1 million a year deal to use the properties as temporary accommodation for the city’s large homeless population.
The decision to sign a contract with Stef & Philips, first revealed by the Peterborough Telegraph in September, continues to draw anger, with St Michael’s Gate residents and supporters protesting outside the Town Hall from 5.30pm today (Wednesday, December 14).
A petition about the Stef & Philips deal will then be debated in the council chamber from sometime after 7pm.
Senior council officers and Conservative councillors have always insisted that the tenants would be evicted regardless of what it did, and that if it did not agree a deal then London boroughs would use the homes for their homeless instead.
Now, Cllr Holdich wants to stop a similar situation to the one at St Michael’s Gate from reoccurring. He wrote to Lord Porter: “We believe that the local government sector should not be forced into a position similar to our own where we have no control over the eviction of many of our own households.”
The council leader has also turned his fire on Paul Simon Magic Homes, the company which owns the St Michael’s Gate properties.
Stef & Philips is the managing agents for the homes.
Cllr Holdich wrote: “Although we acknowledge that Paul Simon Magic Investments Ltd have not technically acted outside the law, their business model is in our opinion ethically wrong and is counter to a council’s role to ensure the wellbeing of its population.”
The Local Government Association (LGA) describes itself as “a politically-led, cross-party organisation that works on behalf of councils to ensure local government has a strong, credible voice with national government.”
The petition to be debated tonight calls for the St Michael’s Gate residents to not be evicted.
However, Cllr Holdich is proposing a motion to add to the petition. This calls upon councillors to support him with his plea for help from the LGA “to ensure that neither Peterborough City Council, nor other local authorities, are placed in such an impossible situation again and to investigate these issues at a national level.”