Concerns over growing problems with homelessness in Portsmouth city centre

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BUSINESSES have warned that homelessness remains rife in Portsmouth city centre.

Frustrations have been raised that parts of Guildhall Walk are being used as toilets by rough sleepers blighting the area – and the problem isn’t going away.

We report them to the council, but nothing gets done about it. They leave faeces down there as well. Homelessness is quite a bit issue in that area.

Council representatives working to support vulnerable adults without a home admit there is an issue getting them to connect with local services which provide support.

And there’s a growing tide in the number of people coming straight out of prison on to the street, not knowing which way to turn.

Baldev Laly, director of Lalys Pharmacy, which has a premises in Guildhall Walk, said: ‘There is an alley between us and the main central library, and what we find continuously is a lot of homeless people using the back of that area.

‘We have a lot of problems.

‘We report them to the council, but nothing gets done about it.

‘They leave faeces down there as well. Homelessness is quite a bit issue in that area.

‘What the council needs to do is have people go down there, police it better, and direct these people to where they can go.

‘It’s quite a prime area and we don’t want the city centre full of people sleeping rough.’

It comes after homeless campaigner Luke Buckland earlier this year raised concerns that many homeless shelters offering beds are giving priority to rough sleepers with addictions – while others without serious problems are forced to wait longer for accommodation.

That followed shocking figures obtained by The News which showed the number of homeless people in Portsmouth has trebled, while in Havant it has doubled.

Portsmouth councillor Paul Godier, who slept rough as a teenager growing up in Northampton, is the head of the council’s homeless working committee seeking to bring about changes. He is leading a task force to tackle the problem.

Cllr Godier said: ‘We have to stick to the programme and that’s to point people to the right services.

‘We have an abundance of services, but the issue is getting people to engage with them.

‘For those with complex needs, they don’t want to talk to the authorities.’

He added: ‘I would say four out of seven to eight people I talk to on the street now say they have been in prison within the past 12 months.

‘It’s quite shocking – that’s not what I was expecting.’

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