Grantham councillor says belongings of rough sleepers should be removed from shop entrances

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A Grantham councillor has urged South Kesteven District Council to remove the belongings street sleepers leave abandoned in shop doorways.

Coun Nick Craft told a meeting on Wednesday that this is “one thing that blights our towns, especially Grantham high street.”

He said: “It gives a terrible image of the town. I know not everybody can look after themselves but most I see are fit enough to get a job. If they leave unattended belongings in a doorway, can’t we move it when they are away?”

Cabinet member Peter Moseley replied homelessness was a broader issue that had come to the forefront of the council.

He told the environment overview and scrutiny committee: “We might be in sticky water if we started carting away people’s belongings. Treating the issue is better. ‘Why are these people homeless?’ is the best way forward.”

Coun Moseley said he would pass on Coun Craft’s concerns to council officials.

Coun Craft continued: “I agree it’s difficult to cart stuff away but they should be told if they leave it alone, it will be carted away. To allow things left in a doorway for seven to eight hours in a messy state is not good enough.”

Coun Moseley then repeated his view, leading Coun Craft to add: “It’s tantamount to fly-tipping.”

The meeting heard SKDC’s health and wellbeing committee was looking at the homelessness issue and council officers would also take Coun Craft’s comments “on board.”

Coun Moseley then warned against SKDC “persecuting” people who are among the most vulnerable.

He concluded: “We as a street service concentrate on making our public areas as good as we can. I do not want to be persecuting people who are among the most vulnerable in our society already.”

Earlier, members heard an update on plans for SKDC to maintain a ‘Higher Street Standard’ following last year’s Big Clean campaign.

The committee heard SKDC has invested in new equipment, such as street cleaners, strimmers, etc, which have proved their worth.

Coun Moseley explained that the lessons learned in the Big Clean Campaign were being used to maintain the same standards of cleanliness across the entire district.

“We have had a full-time team since that period (last summer) going around the district in addition to our own staff.

“Doing that intensive 12-week programme has elevated us to a higher standard. It’s our aspiration to maintain that”

Coun Craft said volunteers can also help maintain standards. He said he took a bucket of soap and water to help clean his ward, and he hoped parish councils would receive the self-help message.

Coun Moseley said: “We should not underestimate the contributions individuals make. SKDC will provide 
people with litter picking equipment if they want to do that.”

He then revealed: “One of the legacies of the Big Clean is we hope to roll out a Best Kept Village competition. It gives the villages a chance to step up. We are working with the Council for the Protection of Rural England on that.”