Call for ac­tion as tents pop up on main roads Home­less peo­ple liv­ing on cen­tral reser­va­tions and round­abouts in east of city

Birmingham Post - - NEWS - Stephanie Bal­loo Staff Re­porter

COUN­CIL­LORS have called for ac­tion to tackle a num­ber of tents which have ap­peared along busy Birm­ing­ham com­muter routes.

The tents, used by beg­gars and home­less peo­ple, have been sprout­ing up in the last six months along Bordes­ley Green East, and at the junc­tion of Muntz Street and Coven­try Road.

Other tents haved popped up on the round­about near the Blues Ground in Small Heath and on waste­land off Mose­ley Road, in High­gate.

The prob­lem has been high­lighted by com­mu­nity groups and coun­cil­lors who are now press­ing for ac­tion.

Coun­cil­lor Shafique Shah (Lab) said a tent in his Bordes­ley Green ward is be­ing used by a man who pre­vi­ously lived in a phone box.

He said: “It’s on the main car­riage­way at the junc­tion of the traf­fic lights. I was con­cerned for his safety when he was in the phone box with tem­per­a­tures go­ing down.

“The Birm­ing­ham City Coun­cil Home­less Out­reach team have gone to see him on nu­mer­ous oc­ca­sions and he re­fused any help. I have been told he’s there in the tent some­times. He comes and goes. I have seen th­ese tents in var­i­ous places across the city.

“My as­sump­tion is it’s hap­pen­ing in our city due to Gov­ern­ment aus­ter­ity and there’s a re­duc­tion in ser­vices from the coun­cil and third sec­tors and the rea­son for all that is that they had a re­duc­tion in fund­ing and they can­not pro­vide a ser­vice.

“We are ap­proach­ing win­ter and tem­per­a­tures will drop. I’m wor­ried for th­ese peo­ple, they are putting their lives in dan­ger. No one should be in th­ese kind of cir­cum­stances where they have no chance but to live in tents.”

He added: “Birm­ing­ham is a great city, it’s grow­ing with so much de­vel­op­ment, HS2, the Com­mon­wealth Games com­ing, it’s not the image you want of the city.”

But his views were not shared by Im­ran Hameed from the vol­un­teer Bearded Broz group.

Mr Hameed said their of­fers to help the tent dwellers had been turned down and he urged the pub­lic to do­nate food and not money to them.

He said: “I have been to see the two peo­ple liv­ing in the cen­tral reser­va­tion in that tent. They sleep there. We’ve of­fered them ac­com­mo­da­tion which they’ve re­fused. I have no idea why.

“There’s a makeshift tent in the round­about near the Blues ground op­po­site the Ibis Ho­tel. He does not want to move. I’m aware of the guy in Bordes­ley Green.

“We should be get­ting rid of th­ese tents and try to get them ac­com­mo­da­tion. If you want to give them some­thing, give them food.”

Julie Grif­fin, the coun­cil’s act­ing di­rec­tor for hous­ing, said no one should be sleep­ing out­doors.

Ms Grif­fin said: “Since Oc­to­ber, ad­di­tional spa­ces have been avail­able to sup­port rough sleep­ers, par­tic­u­larly through the colder, win­ter months so that there is a bed avail­able for ev­ery­one who needs one.

“Through the Hous­ing Op­tions Cen­tre and our out­reach sup­port teams that in­clude the Home­less Out­reach Ser­vice Team and the Street In­ter­ven­tion Team which cover the whole city, we are work­ing with the street com­mu­nity to en­sure that they are able to get in to sup­ported ac­com­mo­da­tion.”

> A tent on Bordes­ley Green East

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