Despite being paid £8,000 to try and move on rough sleepers from St Peter’s Arcade, it has emerged that the new security guards in Peterborough city centre are powerless to do anything.
On just the second night since Peterborough City Council decided to fork out for two bouncers to guard outside the arcade - a popular pathway to and from Bridge Street - the Peterborough Telegraph spotted a rough sleeper in his sleeping bag outside a busy Argo Lounge.
Questioned why the rough sleeper was not being moved on, a council spokesman said the guards were only there to tell rough sleepers what support was available (including hostels) and call the police if there is any anti-social behaviour.
That is despite the council paying an independent security firm £8,024 for two guards to work for 19 days over Christmas and the new year.
The cost works out at £424 a day, with the guards starting their patrols on Wednesday, December 21 and remaining until Sunday, January 8. Their hours are 7pm to 7am.
It follows comments by council deputy leader Councillor Wayne Fitzgerald about rubbish and needles being left in the arcade.
The guards, who are working as part of the city’s Prevention and Enforcement Service, will also patrol parts of the city centre.
The decision to hire the security guards has been heavily criticised on social media.
@tracyturra: “@peterboroughtel how about spending the money on what matters like providing the homeless with somewhere to stay not treated as tresspassers.”
@kate_lara: “@peterboroughtel move them where? They will still exist & still need help. An appalling Ill-judged spend by the council! #helpthehomeless.”
@missgzilla: “@peterboroughtel absolutely disgusting! Shame on them!”
@triciatemp: “@peterboroughtel what a complete waste of our Money !!”
@Introvert_Dave: “Surely better to fund places in shelters than this. Moving the homeless on is all well and good, but where can they go?”
Paul Dougall: “4 grand each for 19 days work? Would the 8 grand not be used to house these people? I think that would actually show the real meaning of Xmas.”
Chris Carr: “I don’t know how many rough sleepers there are in Peterborough but I’m fairly certain that most of them could be put up for that period in a hotel.”
Danny May: “They should be ashamed of themselves! That money could house a lot of Homeless people.”