Fri, 13 Apr 2018
WEST Berkshire Council has turned down the suggestion to allow homeless people to use its ground-floor showers.
Hilary Cole (Con, Chieveley) said the proposition – put forward by Newbury town council opposition Liberal Democrat leader Martha Vickers – would cause “great resource issues”.
In an executive meeting between West Berkshire councillors last week, Mrs Vickers asked the district council whether it would consider letting rough sleepers use the staff showers on the ground floor of its Market Street offices when they are not needed by its staff.
Instead, Mrs Cole, West Berkshire’s executive member for housing and homelessness, claimed the council’s Making Every Adult Matter scheme would prove a more effective approach.
Launched earlier this year, MEAM is a partnership led by West Berkshire Council and Thames Valley Police to tackle homelessness, alongside a cohort of other charities and health professionals.
Mrs Vickers, who sits on the HealthWatch West Berkshire board, had already asked Newbury Town Council to consider providing a shower facility in The Wharf toilets.
She said the use of the district council’s showers would only be a temporary measure while the town council considers her proposition, the outcome of which will be announced at a policy and resources committee meeting on April 30.
Mrs Vickers also claimed the location for Newbury’s Two Saints hostel was inconvenient for users, who have to book shower slots through the council-funded outreach worker.
In her response, Mrs Cole said: “The uptake at Two Saints is good.
“Two Saints is a little distance outside of Newbury, but that won’t prevent people from actually walking up there to wash if they need to.”
Mrs Vickers said the answer to her question was disappointing.
“I think there could have been a way of coping with the security issue if the council had wanted to help our rough sleepers,” she said.
“I totally disagree with Hilary Cole that Two Saints on its own is adequate provision.
“Its location and the need to phone and book make it problematic for many.”