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Newham reveals plans to support rough sleepers in Stratford

PUBLISHED: 17:00 10 October 2019

A rough sleeper outside H. Samuels in the Stratford Centre. Photo: Hannah Somerville

A rough sleeper outside H. Samuels in the Stratford Centre. Photo: Hannah Somerville

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The council has announced measures aimed at protecting rough sleepers from crime and poor health.

A tent city sprang up around the Stratford Centre after people staying in a squat at Stratford Office Village were evicted. Picture: GoogleA tent city sprang up around the Stratford Centre after people staying in a squat at Stratford Office Village were evicted. Picture: Google

The move follows the eviction of people living in a squat in Stratford Office Village in Romford Road which the local authority says led to a "tent city" springing up around the Stratford Centre.

Newham Council said on Monday, October 7, the makeshift encampment had increased the vulnerability of rough sleepers and caused concern for visitors, neighbours and businesses.

And Stratford's reputation as a rough sleeping hub has meant as one person is helped into accommodation, they are replaced by another.

The tents and make-shift shelters draw more homeless and add to the "churn", the council said.

As a result Newham is to start removing empty tents and bedding spots which are attracting new rough sleepers.

Under new procuedures, temporary structures and bedding will be removed after attempts by the council's outreach teams to find out if anyone is still using them.

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If staff believe the spot has been abandoned after two visits, a warning letter will be attached to the makeshift shelter to say it will be taken away.

"At this point the street population manager will approve of the clearance and cleansing of the area", a council statement says.

Measures will be put in place to store any valuables or important documents which can be reclaimed.

Cllr John Gray, chairman of Newham's rough sleeper taskforce, said: "Since this administration came into office, homelessness and rough sleeping have been given much needed attention.

"Huge inroads have been made to support rough sleepers with the compassion and care they deserve."

Newham has opened its winter night shelter earlier than usual with 15 spaces made available since October 1.

Its outreach team is reported to have supported 38 people off the streets in two months while the council has also worked with the Department for Work and Pensions to help rough sleepers get access to benefits.

Cllr Zulfiqar Ali, cabinet member for health and adult social care, said: "By working with partners, we will find mutually agreeable solutions to the current rough sleeper situation in Stratford and beyond."

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