Homeless people woken up at 4.30am and evicted from Stratford Centre
- Credit: Archant
Rough sleepers at the Stratford Centre have been evicted and handed community protection notices barring them from returning.
Council officers handed out the forms in the early hours of yesterday morning, waking up the homeless people who were using the centre for shelter to evict them with just five minutes’ notice.
Lorraine Tabone, who runs the Lola’s Homeless community group, said: “At 4.30am, they were woken up and given the form.
“They were all kicked out at 4.35am. Not only were they put out before 5am, it was in the pitch black.”
She said that earlier in the night, they had verbally been told that the centre was set to close the next night from 11pm until 5am for electrical work to take place, but there was no mention of that on the notice.
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Instead, it reads: “The London Borough of Newham is satisfied that your conduct is having a detrimental effect on the quality of life in the locality, of a persistent and/or continuing nature, unreasonable.”
It added that failure to comply with the notice could result in a fine of up to £20,000.
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Lorraine explained that on any given night, between 30 and 50 people sleep in the Stratford Centre, depending on how many had been able to secure space in a shelter.
The centre is kept open as a thoroughfare 24 hours a day, although most of the shops are shut.
As well as providing shelter for homeless people, the centre is often used after hours by skaters due to the flooring.
Manzoor Ahmed, who has provided food for the centre’s homeless for the past 15 months as part of Charity Begins At Home, said he was worried about how the rough sleepers would fare outside during the winter.
“It’s a real concern that they don’t have anywhere warm, clean and dry to sleep in during the harsh, cold winter,” he said.
When approached, Stratford Centre referred the Recorder to Newham Council, who said: “We deal with the challenge of street homeless people in Stratford Centre in an appropriate, humane and fair way.
“For the safety of everyone, the centre is closing overnight for three weeks from February 1 for essential electrical works by the owners Frogmore.
“The centre is a public right of way and is closed only when absolutely necessary.
“On the night of 28/29 January, we spoke to 41 sleepers in total, informing them of the closure.
“Twelve people left voluntarily and we issued the rest with community protection notices encouraging them to move on and desist from anti-social behaviour.
“After assessment, the majority were found to be in employment and had chosen to sleep in the Stratford Centre. These notices are not fines, nor are they anti-social behaviour orders.
“Officers also assessed three homeless people who were vulnerable and advised them of the help and support available.” The spokeswoman added: “Our officers will be visiting the centre again this week to offer anyone who needs it with advice about alternative places to sleep during this time and how to access drug, alcohol and health services if required. Should temperatures fall dramatically we have a cold weather provision plan that offers places in a night shelter.”