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  • #137134

    Angiebaby
    Participant

    Please see my open letter to Hugh Jones below

    Open letter to councillor Hugh Jones, Deputy Leader WCBC
    12 September 2017

    Councillor Hugh Jones – we need to talk.
    We need to talk about homelessness in Wrexham. We need to talk about the Groves school. We need to talk about the people who are living in the grounds. We need to talk about homelessness generally. We need to talk about the scale of the problem. We need to talk about the impact of the problem. We need to talk about what actions are currently being taken, and how effective they are. We need to talk about what your plans are for the homeless in the future, and we need to talk about how you will measure how effective those plans are in reducing the problems.
    Councillor Jones, we’ve tried. We’ve rang your office. We’ve sent you emails. Now nearly 600 of us, including the shadow chancellor, have signed a petition asking you to talk. You haven’t answered us. We don’t believe that you want to talk about it, but we do. We know that this issue isn’t going to be resolved without talking.

    We’ve tried to make you talk. We used existing democratic process to submit our questions to you, and the other members of the executive committee, so that they could be asked at your executive meeting today. Our options were limited by process to a maximum of 5 questions. We thought long and hard and put them to you. 4 of these questions were hand delivered, by us, last Wednesday at 11.30am. Two of those questions were also submitted by email on Wednesday morning.

    Councillor Jones, that’s within the parameters of your protocol.
    Your officer replied in writing to one of us, explaining that the question was received too late. We emailed back with proof that it wasn’t. Your officer acknowledged that it was received in time. Councillor Jones, 4 of the questions were delivered at the same time. The receipt says 4 letters. It’s timed at 11.29.
    Your officer emailed a response to one of us. He acknowledged that it was received in time.

    For the record, these were the questions submitted.

    Could this council please advise how many individuals who were previously sleeping rough or living in insecure accommodation have been rehoused in secure long term social housing accommodation by this council over the past 3 years?

    Could this council please advise. How many individuals are currently sleeping rough and/or using night shelters, bed and breakfasts or any other insecure accommodation within the Wrexham County Borough?

    Could this council please advise what is the allocated budget to tackle homelessness for the year 2017/18, how that compares per homeless individual to previous years and how many estimated homeless individuals will be rehoused in long term accommodation by using this budget?

    Can this council please outline the services and initiatives in place to tackle the issue of homelessness moving forward, and what outcome measures will be used to ascertain the success of these initiatives? ie how will this council judge how effective the measures taken are?

    Could this council please advise how many individuals with no fixed abode, or who were sleeping in insecure accommodation (to include shelters, bed and breakfast etc) have died of any cause over the past 3 years?

    Councillor Jones, at commencement of the executive committee meeting this morning, you were sat next to councillor Mark Pritchard. You will have heard him say, as we did, roughly 1 minute into the meeting, that no public nor member questions had been submitted. This is a lie councillor Jones. Did he know he was lying? Did you? Was this a deliberate attempt to shut down the debate?

    We tried to raise our objections – tried to stand up and challenge the lie. Councillor Jones, the chair ruled out of order and silenced us.

    Councillor Jones, those aren’t our only questions. We thought long and hard before deciding on our 5 questions – we wanted to be sure we addressed our main concerns, but those aren’t all our concerns. We have others.
    We have many others. Like ‘why are there no services available to supply food between Thursday morning and Friday evening?’ or ‘how will this council fill the void left when the salvation army are no longer able to provide shelter?’ and ‘why are the old county court buildings, which this council owns, lying 90% empty when they could easily be converted to sleeping accommodation and an integrated service hub in line with the council’s expressed philosophy?’
    But after this morning maybe the pertinent questions are why has this council expended so much energy to divert the democratic process? And what has this council got to hide?

    Councillor Jones, we were then subjected to the spectacle of the chair closing down questions of councillor Dana Davies and Councillor Carrie Harper.
    In a flagrant display of arrogance and misogyny we watched the chair close off any reference to the Groves school by these two councillors, claiming that discussion around the Groves would ‘lower the tone of the debate’. This, despite the fact, obvious to all present, that the lead officer Councillor Phil Wynn, had not been prevented from discussing the Groves.

    Councillor Jones, we left the public gallery in disgust. Disgust that what is clearly the matter of most pressing public interest at this time was disregarded so blatantly. Disgust that the chair had manipulated the agenda in order to avoid difficult issues and difficult questions.

    Councillor Jones, you have our petition. We need to talk, because winter is coming and these issues aren’t going away.
    And neither are we.
    Signed
    Angie Hammons
    Nick Claffey
    Tracey Jones
    Nicola Price
    Laura Seddon
    On behalf of Help Wrexham’s Homeless

    #137146

    zinger
    Participant

    Angie Baby, you may able to answer one or two things in order for members of the forum to form an opinion.
    In truth, do you know how many people on the Groves site –
    a) have accommodation?
    b) are addicts?
    c) have been in prison?
    d) have previously been evicted from secure tenancy for causing a nuisance to other tenants or none payment of rent?
    e) Would you be happy to have a drug addict live next door to your elderly grandparents.

    #137147

    Angiebaby
    Participant

    Not in exact figures
    There are some individuals who have homes but use the camp as a social hub. These are in the minority. Most are roofless.
    The majority have a history of conviction for petty crime, mostly stealing food and alcohol.
    There are a range of addiction and substance use issues on the camp – these are increasing as users share information and fixes.
    You ask the question if I’d be happy to have them next door to my grandparents. I have no grandparents, but I’m a grandmother myself. I’m happy to walk and to sit among them.
    I ask you now – what if it was one of your children, or grandchildren that had made a wrong choice? What then? Would you be so quick to condemn?
    A long term solution is imperative – I understand that people are sceptical and dismissive of these individuals.
    That makes me sad. Each one is a living human being, and a person in their own right.
    Last night, during 70mph winds and battered by torrential rain, they had no shelter save for a tent.
    If the council had left dogs in the dog pound in those conditions, the town would be up in arms.

    #137171

    zinger
    Participant

    Thank you for answering as honestly as you can Angie. I am not condemning.
    I asked the questions in good faith as someone who has not visited the Groves nor have any wish to do so.
    I like to think that it was good parenting which prevented this happening in my immediate family but no-one knows what the future will bring.
    My last question though you did not answer. We all walk amongst them in the town centre clutching wallets & bags close just in case. Also offering to use phones or to buy a sandwich but would not, no never, give money which may be used on drugs.
    But I would definitely not wish a drug addict to live next door to my elderly grandparents and would not wish them to be next door to children. That is though where they will be given houses/flats. Near vulnerable elderly people in council bungalows or on council estates next to young families with young children. What sort of example is that for youngsters. I genuinely don’t know what the answer is.

    #137172

    MP1953
    Participant

    Thank you for answering as honestly as you can Angie. I am not condemning.
    I asked the questions in good faith as someone who has not visited the Groves nor have any wish to do so.
    I like to think that it was good parenting which prevented this happening in my immediate family but no-one knows what the future will bring.
    My last question though you did not answer. We all walk amongst them in the town centre clutching wallets & bags close just in case. Also offering to use phones or to buy a sandwich but would not, no never, give money which may be used on drugs.
    But I would definitely not wish a drug addict to live next door to my elderly grandparents and would not wish them to be next door to children. That is though where they will be given houses/flats. Near vulnerable elderly people in council bungalows or on council estates next to young families with young children. What sort of example is that for youngsters. I genuinely don’t know what the answer is.

    That probably sums it up as to what the majority of people think in Wrexham, (me included) but as on so many issues these days the minority of views like angiebaby who may mean well often sway things their way, just to add Zinger is right people are frightened of them and with just cause.

    The truth is incontrovertible. Malice may attack it, ignorance may deride it, but in the end, there it is.

    #137173

    Nen
    Participant

    It was like the land of the living dead yesterday around town, it is getting worse by the week something is attracting them to Wrexham.

    I’ve spoken to many – it’s a combination of factors making Wrexham a Mecca for these types:

    – Wrexham still has good, and improving, services for drug addicts and homeless whereas neighbouring areas have generally being cutting theirs due to lack of money available to their councils
    – Unlike other areas, Wrexham has concentrated their services in the town centre, making it a really handy “one stop shop”
    – Safety in numbers – like minded people gathering together
    – Government welfare cuts drastically increasing the number of homeless people – this affects all areas of course, but is a conscious policy decision by the government
    – The fantastic Groves facility – most councils don’t allow this type of thing – coupled with donations from the generous Wrexham public of food, clothing, tents, etc. These people are generally not very good at budgeting so these donations really help their benefits go further so they can enjoy “a little bit of what they fancy”

    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Nen.
    • This reply was modified 3 months ago by  Nen.
    #137599

    bubble
    Participant

    I ask you now – what if it was one of your children, or grandchildren that had made a wrong choice? What then? Would you be so quick to condemn?

    We don’t necessarily need to imagine about how we might behave towards these people IF they were our relatives – it is already clear that these people have effectively been abandoned by their own relatives and friends. I doubt this was an easy decision. How bad must the situation have become for a family to prefer their relative to be living on the streets or in a tent than to provide them with shelter?

    Last night, during 70mph winds and battered by torrential rain, they had no shelter save for a tent.
    If the council had left dogs in the dog pound in those conditions, the town would be up in arms.

    Personally, I think the dog analogy is a bad one. Dogs have very little autonomy – their living conditions depend entirely on humans and what we provide them with or permit them to do. Also, if they are deemed to be violent and beyond redemption, they get euthanized; they don’t get given chance after chance.

    #137718

    bubble
    Participant

    Angie, do you have a view on why these people aren’t being helped by their families?

    #137719

    Angiebaby
    Participant

    It’s not in my nature to judge, either side – I’ll leave that to others, who do it far better than me.
    Maybe you could oblige .. ?

    #137721

    Nen
    Participant

    Angie, do you have a view on why these people aren’t being helped by their families?

    I don’t know about all specific cases but I know of similar cases where addicts have continually stolen money and possessions from their families and eventually been cut loose as the families were at the ends of their tether. I can’t imagine that this situation is that unusual.

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