Outrage over 'only three homeless' claim

Read it on the Telegraph and Argus

By"Anika Bourley ยป

Claims that there are only three people sleeping rough across Bradford were last night branded"misleading" and"self-serving spin".

Under the new count,"rough sleepers" are classed as people with no roof over their head.

It would not include people sleeping in Bradford Interchange - as it has a roof - nor does the count include people sleeping in derelict or disused buildings.

But the system of counting people living rough has been condemned by Bradford organisations helping the homeless as"an outrage".

The new estimates were made by the Department for Communities and Local Government, which claimed that nationally there were 1,850 rough sleepers across the whole country in 1998, a figure it says has now fallen to 464.

But Beajaye Johnson, project co-ordinator at Bradford Nightstop, said of the figures: "To claim there are three people is an outrage. We know the figures do not add up. We deal with people, the feeding projects across the district deal with dozens of homeless people every day.

"If it were true and there were just three cases in Bradford - which there is not - the Government would have been able to sort it out and get these people off the street. Nightstop provides free emergency accommodation for young homeless people"The charity will be conducting its own rough sleeping count later this week."

Shipley MP Philip Davies said: "This is all about self-serving spin. There are a number of charities in Bradford which work with the homeless and they do excellent work. I have spent time with some of them and I know there are more than three people who use the services."

At the weekend more than 100 people camped out under the arches by Forster Square station to raise awareness of homelessness in the district.

The Street Sleep was run by Bradford-based Christian charity Walking Free.

Volunteers were joined by people from local churches, business and the public, along with people sleeping rough .