Calls to protect Blackpool's homeless from freezing weather get council backing

Rough sleepers in Blackpool will get more help during harsh weather conditions if funding can be found.

Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 9:16 am
Updated Wednesday, 24th March 2021, 9:18 am

Calls to ensure vulnerable people are not forced to sleep outside in freezing temperatures were among 10 recommendations made in a housing and homeless scrutiny review carried out by councillors.

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Currently, in normal circumstances, emergency shelter only has to be offered if three consecutive days of freezing temperatures are forecast.

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More help could be offered to homeless people

But after examining the protocol, councillors say this should be reduced and other weather conditions also taken into account as part of the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

Coun Neal Brookes, cabinet member for housing, said this winter the council had not used the normal SWEP protocols but had “developed the ‘everybody in’ principle regardless of the weather.”

He said this took into account Covid circumstances and the additional funding which had been secured due to the pandemic.

Coun Brookes told a meeting of the executive: “If we can be allowed to continue, I have absolutely no doubt we would want to continue that as it gives us the opportunity to work with individuals that are unfortunate to be requiring the SWEP protocals in the first place.”

Members of the scrutiny panel “felt that the three day forecast before the SWEP could be implemented was too long, recognising that even a single night of severe weather could cause significant harm or death to a rough sleeper.”

The report adds: “Although it was recognised by the review panel that freezing weather conditions could be dangerous to those sleeping rough, it was also raised that other weather conditions, such as heavy rainfall could be equally as hazardous.

“However these were not mentioned by the protocol. Therefore it was decided that a recommendation should be included to ask that consideration be given to expanding the scope of the SWEP to cover all severe weather events.”

A total of 10 rough sleepers were found in Blackpool during the most recent autumn 2020 rough sleeper count, down from 15 the previous year and in line with trends seen during the pandemic.

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