NO MIN­IS­TER

He praises PT’s St Michael’s Gate cam­paign...but he won’t change the law:

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Front Page - By Joel Lamy joel.lamy@jpress.co.uk Twit­ter: @PTJoelLamy 01733 588728

The hous­ing min­is­ter has ruled out bring­ing in leg­is­la­tion to pre­vent a re­peat of the St Michael’s Gate scan­dal af­ter ad­dress­ing the is­sue in Par­lia­ment. Fol­low­ing months of anger from­c­ity res­i­dents Gavin Bar­well pub­licly com­mented on the evic­tions at St Michael’s Gate for the first time at a de­bate hosted by MP for Peter­bor­ough Ste­wart Jack­son.

MrBar­wella­greed­withMr Jack­son’s as­sess­ment that it was an “Alice of Won­der­land world” where a com­pany can evict ten­ants then charge coun­cils to move home­less peo­ple into the prop­er­ties.

But speak­ing to the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph he said: “Ste­wart was say­ing this was done­tomake­more­moneyand land­lords do that all the time.

“I un­der­stand how peo­ple feel, but it’s le­git­i­mate for a land­lord to de­cide what to do with an as­set. If you pass a law tostopthat­far­few­er­land­lords will rent out their homes.”

Speak­ing at the de­bate in the Grand Com­mit­tee Room, which was at­tended by just him­self and Mr Jack­son, he said: “It seems to be a highly ir­ra­tional way for a com­pany and a city coun­cil to be­have.

“The key an­swer is to in­crease the sup­ply of hous­ing.”

Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil is pay­ing hous­ing firm Stef & Philips nearly £3 mil­lion over three­yearstousethe­home­sat StMichael’sGate­forovernight ac­com­mo­da­tion­forhome­less peo­ple. This was agreed af­ter the com­pany be­gan evict­ing 74 ten­ants and their fam­i­lies from the es­tate.

Mr Bar­well, who praised the PT­forit’s St Michael’s Gate cam­paign, has agreed to look at the man­age­ment fees com­pa­nies like Stef & Philips can charge for putting up home­less peo­ple in tem­po­rary ac­com­mo­da­tion.

Cur­rently i t can charge the coun­cil £60 per house­hold per week as well as what house­holds can claim for hous­ing ben­e­fit.

The min­is­ter added that the Govern­ment is spend­ing mil­lions of pounds to tackle home­less­ness and has tough­ened the law to make it harder for coun­cils to movepeo­ple out­side of its catch­ment area.

He told the PT: “I have ev­ery un­der­stand­ing of how [the res­i­dents] feel. I think there are real ques­tions about the be­hav­iour of the com­pany.”

Mr Jack­son dur­ing the de­bate de­scribed Stef & Philips as “un­scrupu­lous.” He said: “We are in a crazy Alice in Won­der­land world. We have cre­at­ed­home­less­peo­pleinor-

MP Ste­wart Jack­son speaks at the Par­lia­men­tary de­bate and, in­set, city coun­cil chief ex­ec­u­tive Gil­lian Beasley meets res­i­dents.

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