Gloucestershire

Gloucestershire council's homeless plan criticized by Gear agency

A homeless agency says people will be turned on to the streets if a council plan to cut emergency accommodation in Gloucester goes ahead.

Gloucestershire County Council said it was unfair that the only provision for the whole county was at the Gear project unit on Southgate Street.

It plans to provide six emergency beds in Cheltenham and reduce the Gloucester bed provision from 21 to eight.

Gear's Brian Jones said the council's £1.5m proposal was "nonsensical".

He said: "At a beds allocation meeting in Gloucester last week, 70 people were chasing just four vacancies.

"There is an accountability issue here. Difficult decisions must sometimes be made but as the life expectancy of homeless people is just 42 years, more not less care needs to be taken of them and in the decision making process.

"Unless something is done to address the reduction in beds tragedy will result."

'Take pressure off'

A Gloucestershire County Council spokesman said support for homeless people was "inconsistent" across Gloucestershire, largely centred in Gloucester itself and "too reliant on emergency shelter".

He said: "We need to put more support into rural areas, increase the number of beds in Cheltenham and start to deal with homeless people where they live.

"We want to take the pressure off Gloucester and change the way we treat the homeless."

He added that the decision to change the service would now be subject to a review by the council's Overview and Scrutiny Management Committee.

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