Meet the rough sleep­ers who brave the cold in St Peter’s Arcade

The Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph went to speak to some of the home­less peo­ple who were de­fy­ing the city coun­cil’s £8,000 at­tempts to keep them away

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - News - By Joel Lamy Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy

Few places en­cap­su­late so­ci­ety’s di­vide bet­ter than St Peter’s Arcade, a tiny walk­way filled on one side with rev­ellers drink­ing in the trendy Argo Lounge and on the other rough sleep­ers hud­dling un­der their sleep­ing bags. The path­way to and from Bridge Street has be­come a fo­cal point for Peter­bor­ough’ s at­tempt to an­swer its home­less­ness rid­dle, but despite the city coun­cil throw­ing two se­cu­rity guards into the mix at a cost of £8,000 the hud­dled masses sleep­ing in­side the arcade con­tin­ues to grow al­though by Wed­nes­day the arcade was clear.

The Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph’s story a fort­night ago out­lin­ing the coun­cil’s £424 a day spend on the‘ bounc­ers ’, as they have been re­ferred to, has drawn anger and ridicule, es­pe­cially when it be­came clear that they were only there to ad­vise home­less peo­ple about what help was avail­able and to re­port in­ci­dents of anti-so­cial be­hav­iour to po­lice.

But, when the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph spoke to some of the rough sleep­ers in the arcade last Thurs­day they said they did not feel like they­were get­ting much help from the au­thor­i­ties.

One rough sleeper, who would not give his name, said: “Argo get on with us. They came out and gave us Christ­mas cards and cups of tea. The only peo­ple who do not like us are rich peo­ple.

“[The guards] have been sound. They walk through and make sure we are al­right. We chat and they give us fags.

“They make sure no-one causes us any trou­ble.

“Peo­ple leave stuff here be­cause they trust us. At Christ- mas they give you presents and money, and they like us enough to give us food.

“We do not ask for any­thing. Peo­ple give us stuff with­out us ask­ing. They give us cof­fee and McDon­ald’s.”

The arcade has filled up with the per­sonal be­long­ings of the rough sleep­ers who said they liked the se­cu­rity from the guards and Argo Lounge’s CCTV cam­era.

The home­less man who would not be named said he was on the streets be­cause his part­ner had failed to pay rent at the place that they shared.

He said he only moved to the city cen­tre be­cause he was forced to move out of aban­doned cars in Fen­gate, and he echoed the words of other peo­ple the PT has spo­ken toby say­ing he was de­nied a tem­po­rary place to stay by the coun­cil be­cause he had a dog.

The coun­cil dis­putes that this is the case.

Headded: “I’m quite happy do­ing what I do. I would rather nothavea­house- it’s alot of re­spon­si­bil­ity. At the end of the day peo­ple can’t say any­thing about us be­ing here be­cause they don’t have to live here.”

Two of the other rough sleep­ers in the arcade were from Poland and spoke very bro­ken English.

One called Belinda said: “No work­ing, no ID. Coun­cil no help. I sleep here seven days.”

The other, called Leszek, said he had re­ceived a P 45.

Asked how long he will sleep rough in the city cen­tre, he said: “Maybe one day, one week.”

Coun­cil­lor Wayne Fitzger­ald, coun­cil deputy leader, vowed last month to sort out anti-so­cial be­hav­iour at the arcade, such as nee­dles be­ing left be­hind. He said he would not com­ment on pay­ing £8,000 for the se­cu­rity guards as it is not part of his cabi­net port­fo­lio, but he added: “I’ve had it con­firmed we of­fered help to all rough sleep­ers.

“You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink.”

‘The only peo­ple who do not like us are rich peo­ple’ Rough sleeper ‘We of­fered help to all rough sleep­ers’

Rough sleep­ers in St Peter’s Arcade

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