Concerns raised after Rugby's homeless move from town centre

A chain of events which began with the arrest of two for aggressive begging has seen shop doorways cleared of rough sleepers and the council place 12 in accommodation.

Friday, 19th January 2018, 10:46 am
Updated Friday, 19th January 2018, 10:52 am
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A spokesperson for Rugby Borough Council told the Advertiser that on Monday, January 15, Warwickshire Police arrested two rough sleepers for aggressive begging.

Both were then bailed with a condition not to return to the town centre.

On Wednesday, January 17, private bailiffs working on behalf of the owners of the former Burger King building moved people out of the doorway and left possessions on the street before boarding up the shop front.

It is not known whether bailiffs moved people from the Greenwoods building, although people sleeping in the doorway of the former Yum Yum shop in Market Place moved voluntarily.

Aftab Gaffar, managing director of Rugby First, said the organisation had previously spoken to owners of shop buildings in the town centre about the issues caused by rough sleepers in shop doorways.

A spokesperson for the council said: "The council had no role in moving these individuals. However, a number of our teams have become involved since.

"Our Community Safety Wardens warned the bailiffs who attended Burger King that disposal of the possessions in High Street was a fly-tipping offence. The wardens arranged for the possessions to be removed and kept for their owners to collect.

"Our housing team have now placed four of the rough sleepers in supported accommodation. We have also placed eight individuals in temporary accommodation.

"Crews from WSU were involved in the clean-up following the bailiffs’ actions and environmental protection has the relevant contact details in order to charge the owner/s of the buildings for this clean-up.

"We will continue to work with the individuals concerned and partner agencies in order to address the issue of rough sleeping."

Mr Gaffar noted the number of rough sleepers in the town centre appears to have noticeably dropped.

He said Rugby councillors have been calling him to ask why there are now so few homeless people in the town centre.

A homelessness volunteer, who wished to remain anonymous, told the Advertiser they are concerned that if the homeless have remained in the town after leaving the centre, some may resort to crime, including robbery, as their usual income from begging may dwindle.

They said: "I seriously think something bad is going to happen - I can barely sleep."

According to the volunteer, the situation for some rough sleepers has deteriorated as within the last two weeks the town has seen an influx of 'spice' and 'black mamba' - formerly-legal highs.

As a result of the clearing of shop doorways, the volunteer said some rough sleepers have been talking about squatting in buildings.