Ho­tel bought to house the home­less

Staines Informer - - NEWS - Matt Strud­wick

SPELTHORNE Bor­ough Coun­cil has bought an Ashford ho­tel for £2 mil­lion to be used as tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion for home­less peo­ple.

The coun­cil said it had al­ready been pay­ing the pre­vi­ous owner of the Harper Ho­tel, in Ford­bridge Road, nightly rental rates to place home­less peo­ple.

It said the ho­tel would pro­vide ac­com­mo­da­tion for up to 20 households, once it had been re­fur­bished.

Cllr Jean Pinker­ton, cab­i­net mem­ber for hous­ing, said the prop­erty will in­crease their flex­i­bil­ity and al­low them to pro­vide a good fa­cil­ity for Spelthorne’s home­less households.

“Be­ing forced to move out of the bor­ough can be very dis­rup­tive and re­move peo­ple from their sup­port net­work,” she said.

“Hav­ing a fixed num­ber of ac­com­mo­da­tion units here in Spelthorne will be ex­tremely pos­i­tive for all con­cerned.

“Fi­nan­cially speak­ing, the pro­vi­sion of emer­gency and tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion rep­re­sents a sig­nif­i­cant ex­pense for the coun­cil so it’s im­por­tant that we con­tinue to ex­plore in­no­va­tive ways to re­duce these costs.”

In the last fi­nan­cial year, Spelthorne has spent £484,000 on tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion and cur­rently has 1,400 fam­i­lies on its Hous­ing Reg­is­ter.

Coun­cil­lors agreed to in­crease the coun­cil’s bor­row­ing from £6 mil­lion to £35 mil­lion to buy prop­er­ties for home­less peo­ple and af­ford­able hous­ing at an ex­tra­or­di­nary coun­cil meet­ing on April 7. Cllr Ian Har­vey, leader of the coun­cil, said “Since tak­ing on the role of leader, I have been de­ter­mined to im­prove the avail­abil­ity of lo­cal emer­gency ac­com­mo­da­tion so I’m de­lighted that we have com­pleted on the pur­chase of this par­tic­u­lar prop­erty and can pro­vide bet­ter sup­port for vul­ner­a­ble peo­ple in our bor­ough.”

There are cur­rently 74 fam­i­lies in bed and break­fast ac­com­mo­da­tion with the fig­ure reach­ing a high of 104 in Au­gust last year.

The coun­cil says it costs it £6,000 a year for each fam­ily it pro­vides bed and break­fast ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Home­less char­ity Trans­form Hous­ing & Sup­port, which set up a shel­ter in Staines last win­ter, will help the coun­cil set up the project.

Paul Mitchell, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Trans­form Hous­ing & Sup­port, said: “We are very pleased to share our knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence with the coun­cil to sup­port them in set­ting up this much-needed project.

“The new ser­vice will give home­less fam­i­lies a place to stay within the lo­cal area, in­stead of in ac­com­mo­da­tion out of the bor­ough.

“When peo­ple have to move out of their lo­cal area there are prac­ti­cal is­sues around work and school – but also an emo­tional im­pact in terms of los­ing links with fam­ily and friends.

“This project gives peo­ple a tem­po­rary home so they can main­tain sta­bil­ity for their fam­ily and have time to find more per­ma­nent lo­cal hous­ing.”

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Harper Ho­tel, Ford­bridge Road, Ashford.

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