Calderdale adopts policy on homelessness and rough sleeping
Calderdale councillors have formally adopted a policy on homelessness and rough sleeping, and an action plan linked to it.
Leader of the council, Coun Tim Swift (Lab, Town) said strategies outlined in the Burnt Bridges report – which, concerning the deaths of five homeless men within a few months of each other in 2018-19, had seriously concerned councillors – had also been considered.
The council wanted to reassure people some items picked up in the review were acted on at the time and included a homelessness and rough sleeping strategy, he told July’s full council meeting.
Councillors’ briefing papers said the strategy provides an overview of homelessness nationally and outlined relevant Government Housing Policy and a comprehensive overview of homelessness in Calderdale
It indicated key areas of concern and priorities for action, with the action plan built around the three themes of prevention, intervention and recovery.
The overall vision is of ending rough sleeping in Calderdale and continuing to develop and deliver excellent homelessness prevention and relief services.
It includes background information, options considered, financial, legal, human resources and organisational development, environmental, health and economic implications.
“There are important ways in which we can make our services more flexible.
“The main message is clearly we need to focus a lot of support and resources on rough sleepers, but the best solutions are preventative ones,” said Coun Swift.
Coun Ashley Evans (Lib Dem, Warley) said his concern related to the Burnt Bridges report and the need to take into account actions were required ac ross directorates and organisations.
“Can the leader assure us on this and more effective communication will be an integral part of this strategy?” he said.
Coun Evans was also concerned that last year 90 people were charged by the police using the “Dickensian 19th century” Vagrancy Act to deal with issues.
He wanted the leader to ask West Yorkshire’s new Metro Mayor, Tracy Brabin, who has police commissioner powers, to get the police to stop using this legislation.
Cabinet member for Climate Change and Resilience, Coun Scott Patient (Lab, Luddenden Foot) said the report was an evolving piece of work which would be brought back for scrutiny and Coun Swift said he would be happy to talk to the Mayor about the issue raised.
Councillors also approved the formation of a Community Rail Partnership for the Calder Valley line, which Calderdale will be part of and overseen by Rochdale Council.
Cabinet member for Regeneration and Strategy, Coun Jane Scullion (Lab, Luddenden Foot), said the cross-border partnership would enable all concerned to lobby more effectively.
Coun Amanda Parsons-Hulse (Lib Dem, Warley) said a major challenge was what motivated to use the train and leave their cars behind or not, the psychological journey – for example whether a bad experience such as being packed in like sardines or missing a train, put people off.
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