A quiet Bedford street has been ‘devastated’ by people ‘dumped’ in temporary housing by the council and ‘left to their own devices’, a ward councillor has claimed.
The borough council says it has not been evicting people for antisocial behaviour during the Covid-19 pandemic – and admitted that managing temporary accommodation can be “disruptive” and “challenging”.
But it added that it was in ‘active discussions’ with its community safety team and the police over the issue.
Councillor Lucy Bywater (Green, Castle Ward) told the Budget & Corporate Overview & Scrutiny Committee (Thursday, July 7), that there have been cases of anti-social behaviour from a small number of people housed by the council.
“They’re dumped in private accommodation in Castle Ward in relatively large numbers, and they seem to be left to their own devices,” she said.
“I’ve had really appalling problems in the last few months in Castle Ward as a result.
“A quiet street, [with a] really strong community, that’s been devastated by one house of people.
“It’s really making people physically and mentally ill, and it’s caused an elderly neighbour to have to have safeguarding put in place because of the physical and mental danger to her health.
“I think that’s all comes down to support, if people have the support, vulnerable people or people with substance misuse, then it can help to divert that problem,” she said.
Councillor David Sawyer (LibDems, De Parys Ward) said: “I don’t know how similar the situation in my ward was where the occupants of one dwelling were, if you like, debilitating a whole section of the street with antisocial behaviour bordering criminality.
“The people I come across in this situation really have quite complex needs, including mental health needs,” he said.
“Unless those are tackled, that person is going to remain, at the very least, highly vulnerable and potentially homeless.”
Lee Phanco, chief officer for assessment, application and business support, said: “There are some people with very, very high support needs.
“Throughout the pandemic, where we would ordinarily in the past have had the reasonable grounds for ending the tendency because of antisocial behaviour, etc. We haven’t gone down that route – we haven’t been evicting people from temporary accommodation.
“Trying to manage that is quite challenging, it can be very disruptive for the neighbours and it does require support,” he said.
Referring to Councillor Bywater’s case, Mr Phanco said he was aware of the property in question.
“There are some active discussions on going with our community safety team and the police as you would expect , as well as other services,” he said.
Bedford Borough Council has been approached for a response to councillor Bywater’s claims and also to explain the support it offers to the tenants and to the neighbours experiencing disruption.