EMERGENCY accommodation could be provided to rough sleepers in the district during all ‘severe’ winter weather including snow, wind and rain.
Stratford District Council is set to consider amending the ‘Severe Weather Emergency Protocol’ (SWEP) which is triggered when temperatures drop below zero for three executive nights. On the third night, those sleeping rough are provided with bed and breakfast accommodation.
But the council is being urged to review the scheme to include all types of ‘severe’ weather’ as recommended by government organisation Homeless Link which has scrapped the three-night policy.
Although not a legal requirement, the charity said local authorities had a ‘humanitarian obligation’ to do everything possible to prevent street deaths.
Last winter the SWEP was triggered on three occasions. Some 20 rough sleepers were provided with accommodation.
The council predict amending the protocol would cost some £30,000 – double the current cost spent on B&B accommodation for rough sleepers in winter.
Liberal Democrat councillor Peter Moorse is among those who wants to see the protocol triggered in any ‘severe weather’.
He said: “I’ll be asking that the council provide accommodation whenever the temperature drops below freezing and also to recognise the need for shelter from some other extreme weather conditions.
“Most of us just can’t imagine what it must be like to be sleeping rough in snow and freezing temperatures and I hope we can put an end to this at least in our district.”
Members of the district housing forum took a vote on if and how the protocol should be amended, with nine backing SWEP to include all weather. An option to trigger the protocol when a freezing night was forecast received seven votes, while leaving the protocol as it was got no votes.
The council’s cabinet will discuss the issue on Monday (November 5).