A number of tents have been erected on Station Street in Nottingham city centre, with occupants claiming they are homeless and calling for the council to open empty buildings for rough sleepers.

The City Council has been granted a possession order by the County Court today (Thursday 31 December) which orders those on the camp to return possession of the street to the authority.

A City Council spokesman said: “We’re disappointed we had to take legal action at all and hope that now the encampment has been deemed illegal by the court, the protestors will move on of their own accord so we don’t have to incur further council taxpayers’ expense. We need them to move so that work can resume on the Station Street improvements on Monday. Their presence has caused a nuisance to local businesses and incurred unnecessary legal and clean-up costs to local taxpayers.

“We have been clear from the outset that opening empty buildings is not necessary and have offered accommodation which has been refused. We have also taken details of several people who presented themselves to us as homeless whose needs will be assessed and where appropriate, support will be provided as is always the case in Nottingham where we operate a No Second Night Out policy.”

The City Council has very robust plans in place which adequately support rough sleepers over the winter.

With partners including Framework Housing Association, churches and others in the voluntary sector, a wide range of support is in place to provide healthcare, accommodation, housing and debt advice for people who have sadly ended up sleeping rough, and personnel like Community Protection Officers are alert to the issue and will help anyone at risk to access support and accommodation.

The winter shelter which operates from November to March has bed spaces for a minimum of 18 and with the last annual count showing nine people a night sleeping rough in Nottingham, there is adequate provision and no need for empty buildings to be considered.

The City Council’s Head of Licensing, Trading Standards and Anti-Social Behaviour, Richard Antcliff, said: “We have been to the camp on a daily basis to offer accommodation to anyone who is homeless, but the offer has been declined. We believe most of the people there are not homeless or from Nottingham. However we will continue to visit daily and offer accommodation to anyone who is homeless.

“If they are not homeless but in fact protestors, then they should move on as they are obstructing the highway, preventing construction work continuing on Station Street, inconveniencing local shopkeepers, causing damage and other anti-social behaviour, including using the back of shops as toilets, which we have already received complaints about. All of this incurs costs and nuisance to local taxpayers. The council will do all it can to move the demonstrators on as soon as possible but in the short term, it is a police matter and the police need to act.

“We operate a ‘No Second Night Out’ approach to homelessness, and so the issue they raise about opening up empty buildings does not apply in Nottingham, as we have very robust plans in place which adequately support rough sleepers over the winter.”

Anyone sleeping rough or who spots someone who is should make a referral to the Street Outreach Team 24 hours a day via the Freephone number: 0800 066 5356

See more about the city’s Winter Plan here: https://www.mynottinghamnews.com/support-in-place-for-homeless-this-winter/