09:00AM, Friday 09 December 2016
Homeless people could be staying in Maidenhead Town Hall after the council leader pledged to do 'whatever is necessary' to help them find accommodation over Christmas.
The announcement was made following the deaths of two rough sleepers in the town since October began.
The Royal Borough said this week it had triggered a ‘Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP)’ after the cold weather worsened, allowing homeless people to get in touch with its housing team so they can find them a place to stay.
Seven people used the service last week, according to the council.
Cllr Simon Dudley, leader of the council, said an area next to the Desborough Suite, which opens into the car park and can be secured from the rest of the building, could be used if necessary.
“We have got a lot of space here. We will make that available,” he added.
“We will do whatever is necessary.
“It is completely unacceptable for people to sleep rough in the Royal Borough.”
“The doors will be thrown open.”
On Wednesday, Cllr Dudley tweeted to say seven beds were arriving at the council and added: “No one should sleep rough on our streets this Christmas.”
He did not provide the exact details of the town hall accommodation plan, but such a service would be provided if needed.
Last month, rough sleeper Julian Abraham, 62, known as ‘Troggy’, died from what is believed to have been pneumonia, and a month earlier, 'Big' John West, another homeless man, died from what was thought to be a chest infection.
The accommodation is designed to last until a new homeless centre is opened next year, which the council is working with the Brett Foundation to open.
Sue Brett, founder of the Brett Foundation, said: “I think it is fantastic they are addressing the situation.
“What a fantastic use of the building. It is the people’s building.”
She worried that a small amount of homeless people may not want to use the facilities and could continue to stay out on the streets, but hoped it would prove effective in the interim.
Members of the housing team can be contacted at the Town Hall in St Ives Road, Maidenhead or at York House in Sheet Street, Windsor, or call 01628 683800 for the Customer Service Centre.
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