Labour have ruled out opening a hostel to get rough sleepers off the streets of Milton Keynes.
Opposition Conservative Councillors expressed their anger about this and have suggested the Labour-led Milton Keynes Council doesn't have a short-term answer to get people off the streets.
A £2m Conservative budget amendment proposal for additional support to prevent and reduce the number of people who are homeless was blocked by the Labour and Lib Dem Councillors. Just weeks earlier the suggestion of a one-stop hostel, with in-house support services for rough sleepers was rejected outright by the Labour leader of Milton Keynes Council, Peter Marland during a meeting of the Cabinet. This shortsighted decision, however, is in stark contrast to Bedford Borough Council, which a few weeks ago, opened a £7 million hostel getting 29 individuals off the streets into a home and the provision of a 24 hour support service.
Milton Keynes Council on the other hand have built up reserve savings in the bank of nearly £170 million, well above the minimum requirement for local authorities, while playing politics on the important issue of homelessness. In their own Rough Sleeping Strategy, Milton Keynes Labour confirmed there could be up to 100 people sleeping rough in Milton Keynes.
The Conservative Housing and Homelessness spokesperson Cllr Catriona Morris said:
"I am very surprised Labour are ruling anything out at this stage. Another winter has come and gone and the Labour-led Milton Keynes Council has failed to find a short-term response. We all agree that there are complex issues surrounding homelessness and there has to be a long-term approach, but we can't just leave people on the streets. Labour seem to keep saying "no" to things rather than taking action."
Cllr. Morris continued, "The strategy put forward has some good messages but it falls short of any serious proposals. They have taken on the Government's Housing First approach which is a positive move, but what everyone will be asking is why has it taken so long."
In the recent Council budget debate Labour voted against a Conservative amendment to invest £2million from the substantial reserves into supporting rough sleepers.