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Borough's emergency accommodation in the spotlight
BASINGSTOKE and Deane Borough Council’s use of bed-and-breakfast premises as emergency accommodation has come under fire following fresh evidence that they are not fit-for-purpose.
At a recent council housing and environment overview and scrutiny committee, Labour councillor Laura James said she had “grave concerns” about the two bed-and-breakfast establishments that are used to house needy residents.
Her comments come following an inspection that found neither premises had cooking facilities or basic appliances such as a fridge, or microwave.
Cllr James called on housing chiefs to improve the borough’s emergency accommodation amid new figures showing that the number of people housed in bed-and-breakfasts by the council is set to double.
“If we are going to use bed-and-breakfasts, then I have grave concerns about that,” said Cllr James.
“If you look at what this report says, it is damning, and we are putting families in there. The two we are using are not adequate.”
The borough council, which has to house people in need, offers bed-and-breakfast as an “absolute last resort”.
But with limited rooms available in the borough, the council has been forced to house people in Reading, Southampton, and Slough.
From April 2011 to April 2012, 14 households were temporarily homed, but in just six months from April 2012 to September 2012, 13 households were placed in bed-and-breakfasts.
The issue first came to light last March, when Labour group councillors tabled a motion, calling for a review of temporary accommodation.
They said that in 2011, 35 borough residents were housed in bed-and-breakfasts, with the majority of these establishments being located in Slough.
Borough housing chief Cllr Rob Golding said the council was looking at “alternative bed-and-breakfasts to increase the borough’s range of options”.
“We do not regard the present situation as satisfactory,” he said. “At the moment, we have a number of possibilities that are coming forward.
“We are all agreed that we should get more accommodation in the borough, but it is better having someone housed in Slough than sleeping rough in Basingstoke.”