A HOMELESS couple who have been moved on from living under a busy motorway bridge have hit out at the authorities for failing them.
Hayley Woodacre and Nathan Balmer, both 35, were pitched up under the Portsbridge Roundabout under the A27 because they felt safe there.
Hayley told The News she has been robbed while rough sleeping in other locations and just wants somewhere to sleep away from possible trouble while waiting to be housed by Portsmouth City Council.
But despite saying they are not causing any trouble, Hayley and Nathan, who sleeps rough to support his friend, say they should be allowed to stay at the site, which is owned by Highways England.
Hayley said: ‘I’ve been here on and off for the last seven years and have never caused any trouble. The police have even been here and have no problems with us sleeping here.
‘We don’t make any mess or make any noise. We just sleep here and then go off somewhere else during the day.
‘I’m still waiting to be homed by the council. Every time I go to the council the housing officer is never there. They say they can home me in a shared house but they have a lot of problems with drugs and mix clean people with addicts.
‘The Job Centre would not help me because of my circumstances. I don’t ask for anything – I don’t beg because I don’t believe it’s right, even though I know some people earn a lot of money. A lot of them live in a housing shelter as well.
‘I had £195 robbed off me recently and I worry about leaving here because I think I will be in danger of the same thing happening again. I’m happy to go anywhere even if it’s outside the area.’
Nathan added: ‘I stay with Hayley because I worry about what may happen even if she is on her own. We’re not causing anyone harm so I don’t know why we can’t stay here.’
Highways England said enforcement action was only taken as a last option. A spokesperson said: ‘The land near Hilsea roundabout is not a safe place to sleep, especially since it can only be accessed by crossing three busy lanes of traffic. Our safety team has worked full-time with the local authority and other agencies to support people found to be rough sleeping.
‘Our starting point is always to offer support, based on the individual’s safety. Throughout the whole process we work with our local authority partners to provide help and support and enforcement is only used as a last resort; as in this case when people won’t take the help offered to them by Portsmouth Council.’
A council spokesperson said: ‘We’re aware there were homeless people there, and we're continuing to try and engage with them to offer support. We tell all people we find sleeping rough that they can sign up for our night bed service.’
Homeless people can get help by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org or calling (023) 9283 4989. They can also visit the Civic Offices in Guildhall Square or go to streetsupport.net/portsmouth for more help.