“Homelessness in Windsor” has become a controversial issue in Windsor. In the 2nd of a 4 part blog, Wisdom asks What is and can be done?
I received a call for help via Facebook in relation to the welfare of a specific homeless person on 11 December 2017. RBWM officers told me that they didn’t have the capacity to go and check on him and, having contacted the Police, neither did they.
At 1:00am, with the outside temperature at -20C, I felt I had no other option but to jump in my car and go and find the individual.
I met and talked to many of the rough sleepers in Windsor that wintry night and, the last person I found was the gentleman in question but, not before I came across one young man sleeping on the freezing concrete with just a skimpy coat for protection.
With the telephone help of RBWM Officer, Mr Dakin, the barman at the Castle Hotel and, the night duty soldiers at the Victoria Street barracks, I managed to deliver hot chocolates and bedding, with pillow slips, to all who needed it.
Other blogs in this series
Click here to read part 1 of this 4 part series entitled, “Issues facing Windsor – Intro – Blog”
Click here to read part 2 of this 4 part series entitled, “Homelessness in Windsor”
Click here to read part 3 of this 4 part series entitled, “Lost bus services in Windsor?”
Click here to read part 4 of this 4 part series entitled, “Concerns about Universal Credit’s roll out in May 2018”
How can we make things better?
But it got me thinking and, asking questions about the Homelessness Strategy that was promised at the Windsor Town Forum in October 2017, with a stated delivery time of November 2017, but has yet to be published for scrutiny; As per the minutes of Windsor Town Forum Wednesday, 25 October 2017, “The draft strategy would be considered by senior officers and TVP in mid-November 2017.”
Indeed, Council Leader, Conservative Simon Dudley, also stated in a Twitter discussion with me, when I pushed him, that, “I’ll send the work to an @RBWM O&S and they will invite @TVP_Chief @Bhupinderrai70 @ThamesVP”. In other words he is promising that he will allow scrutiny, in public, of this strategy so, you and I can help improve it; and there are many of you who can.
I agree with TVP Chief Constable, Francis Habgood, that enforcement is “not the first option” so, I hope that the strategy’s approach would encompass;
- Strategy is needed that clearly maps out and deals appropriately with all possible scenarios, compassionately & firmly.
- A considered multi-agency approach that will map out and deal appropriately, effectively and flexibly with all possible outcomes
- Assessment pathways to recognise all categories of street found individuals (including professional beggars) and clearly set out the provisions for managing them, and identifying areas for improvement.
At one of my recent quarterly surgeries, a resident related to me problems he was having with the Council with regard to accommodation. He has now been in temporary accommodation for more than 6 months and, all 10 rooms of the B&B he was in were full with the Council paying between £100 and £170 per night for each room.
This equates to the Council paying some £400,000 per anum for a singly property.
Cllr Dudley recently also stated on Twitter that 80 families were in temporary accommodation and, that this figure was increasing.
This Christmas there are over 80 @RBWM families in B&B. At the same time developers bring forward #Housing developments with no affordable housing. In 2018 all @RBWM sites will have at least 30% AH with tenors all through the salary spectrum https://t.co/LQSTp3X61I
— Simon Dudley (@MrSimonDudley) December 20, 2017
You do the maths
80 families x £170per night X 365nights = £ 4,964,000 per year, and increasing?!
For £5m+ per anum, perhaps it would be a lot cheaper for the Council to build its own accommodation and employ caretakers.
I have suggested to Cllr Dudley that he considers building our own accommodation. Who knows, I may be pleasantly surprised by a positive response but, as it’s not true blue policy, I am not holding my breath, incase I turn blue 😉
Perhaps the savings from this spending could also help provide accommodation for local homeless people in the Royal Borough, rather than exporting them to other areas.
This would certainly quash the accusations of social cleansing and, after all, they say “charity begins at home”.
An interesting comment from a fellow Windsorian
Here’s one interesting post from the Windsor People site on Facebook
“Sometimes you have to point fingers Sarah; when one councillor states that, in essence, “the scum must be moved on” and few if any from his political party objects to the statement he made…to go back to my original point …Elizabeth The First made it a local and national responsibility to aid the people within any particular community (In the 1576 Act each town was also required to provide work for the unemployed, supplying raw material such as wool for them to work on. In this way the poor were given practical assistance whilst fulfilling a useful role for the community. The 1597 Act went even further in stating that an official be appointed for each parish specifically to supervise the needs of the poor. Once again this clearly located responsibility at a local level, but within the structure of national legislation) and here we are doing it in 2017/18…because other places, we are told, have a better solution than one of the richest towns, in one of the richest counties in the country…a county which has the Prime Minister as their MP (whether we like it or not) and a councillor from her party is saying in essence – “oh please do f£&@ those vagrants off out of our pretty town”…..nobody knows what RBWM can or cannot offer…we do know that what they appear to be offering is not good enough as evidenced by 1) the need for charities to provide additional support 2) the decision to punt people to another town 3) the attitude of at least one councillor….
So what next?
I continue to push for sight of the Homelessness Strategy, and will tell you more as soon as I see, IF the Council decide to talk to me, more so YOU CAN COMMENT; Please also make your feelings known to the Council leader, Simon Dudley
If you would like to help develop an compassionate but firm alternative strategy, email me email@example.com
Let’s keep working together to put people first; justice and democracy for all.
WWRA Councillor, Wisdom Da Costa, Clewer North, Windsor
This post is part of Cllr Wisdom Da Costa’s regular series of Blogs to inform and empower local residents; as he promised in his election leaflet
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily the views of the West Windsor Residents Association (WWRA).