Chichester Homelessness - Statement from the City Council
Chichester City Council, working in conjunction will all relevant partners, supports any action that can be taken to alleviate the issue of rough sleeping in the City. The City Council, a large Parish Council, does not have legal powers in relation to housing or social care, but has an established position in the city.
The City Council readily acknowledges that some rough sleepers have found themselves in this position through a range of spiralling personal circumstances, whilst some have issues that require more specialist solutions.
The Portico of the Council House has been a place used by rough sleepers for some time and many of them have become known to the duty staff who have always treated them with kindness and respect, supplying hot drinks, food and clothing. A tolerant, live and let live attitude has been adopted by the City Council to this very real problem.
In recent months, a new group of sleepers started using the Portico as a storage area for personal items and over a short period of time staff were verbally abused and in one case threatening behaviour was used against a member of staff to which zero tolerance was applied. The Mayor witnessed a young person visiting the building for an evening function receiving unwarranted attention from this group and consumption of alcohol was also taking place under the Portico. This led to the Mayor, through the Town Clerk, seeking advice and support from District Council colleagues and Police and a decision was made to prohibit rough sleeping there.
It is a situation that will be kept under review, but the Council House Portico cannot be seen as providing a permanent solution to the problem.
City Councillors Clare Apel and Martyn Bell are Trustees of Stonepillow and well aware of the reality of what is going on in Chichester. They will be arranging for the newly appointed Director of Stonepillow to meet with members of the City Council shortly to discuss the options available, a critical issue being the lack of overnight accommodation available.