Council abandons homeless hostel plan

Bath and North East Somerset Council is to abandon plans for a new homeless hostel in the centre of Bath, the Council’s Liberal Democrat Cabinet has confirmed.

The cancellation of the project, which the Council had been working on for the past three years, has raised concerns that vulnerable residents could suffer under service cuts implemented by the Council’s Labour-backed Lib Dem administration. Conservative Councillors have also said that the decision means the Council must urgently come up with a new strategy to address the proliferation of homelessness and street drinking in the city and the plight of homeless people in the area.

Councillor Les Kew, the Conservative Shadow Cabinet Member for Homes and Planning, commented:

“The cancellation of this project will clearly be very disappointing news for the agencies and charities, such as Julian House and Somer Housing, who have been involved in developing the Council’s strategy for tackling homelessness in Bath.

“This decision will start raising serious concerns that under this Labour-backed Lib Dem administration, services to vulnerable residents will be the first in the firing line when it comes to budget cuts.

“With this project now cancelled, the Council will need to work on drawing up a new strategy for addressing the challenges of homelessness and street drinking in Bath. This has long been an issue of major concern to residents and businesses in the city and one which the Council cannot sideline. Funding for the project was already budgeted for and remains in the Council’s budget for this purpose.”
The Liberal Democrat Cabinet has also been criticised for its lack of consultation before taking the decision to abandon the project. Conservative Councillor Vic Pritchard, who chairs the Council’s Wellbeing Scrutiny Panel, commented:

“The lack of consultation over this decision is completely unacceptable, which has not been taken in public. Councillors have not been given the chance to scrutinise or vote on this decision, a decision originally agreed unanimously at a Full Council meeting. We also need clarification on whether this means that the bid for Government money towards the scheme, through the Homes and Communities Agency, is now being abandoned.”