Prom­ise of sup­port for St Michael’s Gate

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

Strug­gling chil­dren, ‘in­hu­mane’ hous­ing con­di­tions and a school des­per­ate for help - these were the mes­sages se­nior of­fi­cers from Peter­bor­ough City Coun­cil were con­fronted with on Mon­day night at a spe­cial meet­ing about St Michael’s Gate.

Home­less fam­i­lies on the es­tate spent two-and-a-half hours at the Parn­well Com­mu­nity Cen­tre de­mand­ing im­me­di­ate help from the coun­cil, which quickly re­sponded by agree­ing to of­fer com­pre­hen­sive sup­port to the res­i­dents.

The es­tate in Parn­well has been mak­ing lo­cal and na­tional head­lines for the past two years since the Peter­bor­ough Tele­graph re­vealed widespread evic­tions were be­ing car­ried out by a pri­vate firm to re­move 72 of the 74 sit­ting ten­ants. Manag­ing agents for the homes Stef & Philips then agreed a three year deal with the coun­cil worth nearly £1 mil­lion a year for the author­ity to use the prop­er­ties for its home­less house­holds.

The coun­cil in­sisted that if it did not use the homes, an­other lo­cal author­ity would move their home­less res­i­dents in their in­stead, with the coun­cil hav­ing to pick up the bill.

The PT was present on Mon­day to hear some of the many prob­lems fam­i­lies liv­ing at St Michael’s Gate have been fac­ing, in­clud­ing com­plaints about the houses be­ing cold and damp, re­sult­ing in chil­dren be­com­ing ill and miss­ing school.

The cries for help moved coun­cil ser­vice di­rec­tor for com­mu­nity and safety Adrian Chap­man to of­fer an in­de­pen­dent en­vi­ron­men­tal eval­u­a­tion of half a dozen prop­er­ties on the es­tate.

That of­fer of as­sis­tance was soon up­graded, though, as Mr Chap­man promised to speak to hous­ing needs man­ager Sean Evans and agree a pack­age of sup­port specif­i­cally for St Michael’s Gate res­i­dents, as many had com­plained that they were not be­ing con­tacted by their hous­ing case­work­ers.

“You are a unique group of peo­ple. We need to think of you slightly dif­fer­ently to oth­ers. We need to spend a bit more time with you,” he said.

“We need to un­der­stand your frus­tra­tions and en­sure a bet­ter ser­vice. It’s a prom­ise I’m mak­ing to you.”

But coun­cil deputy leader Cllr Wayne Fitzger­ald then went one step fur­ther by guar­an­tee­ing that all prop­er­ties should be in­spected, rather than six.

He said : “It’s a dread­ful sit­u­a­tion. I’m go­ing to make sure that these peo­ple come back, and I want to know all 78 houses are fit for habi­ta­tion.

“Ev­ery­body should have a de­cent house to live in.”

Mem­bers of the pub­lic at­tend­ing the meet­ing at the Parn­well Com­mu­nity Cen­tre

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