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Byline: MATT DISCOMBE Reporter

ROUGH sleepers' tents which have been "abandoned" are being removed in Cardiff city centre and people in tents are being warned they may need to leave if they do not engage with offers of accommodation.

Cardiff council says many of the abandoned tents belong to rough sleepers who have taken up offers of alternative accommodation.

The authority says other tents will be "monitored on a daily basis" and will be removed "once our outreach team and the police are satisfied tents have been abandoned".

Homeless people currently in tents in Cardiff city centre will also be given "advice notices", which tell them they are "currently in breach of the Highways Act 1980 where it is an offence to obstruct free passage along a highway".

The notices warn rough sleepers if they continue to remain, the council will have no choice but to issue a Notice to Leave, but adds the council "would prefer not to have to do this".

But the council insists it is not removing occupied tents.

The authority says it will monitor tents "until we are absolutely satisfied they are abandoned, so as long as it takes," before it removes them.

The council says some rough sleepers in tents are deciding against taking up offers of support to come off the streets. In December the number of people assisted off the streets fell to four from a monthly average of 15.

Two of the last four rough sleeper deaths in the city happened in tents.

The council says: "We only want to save lives and help people. With that in mind we will work with our partners to do whatever is needed to get people using the wide range of accommodation and professional services which can help them get back on their feet. We will not remove any occupied tent unless a suitable offer of accommodation has been made, taking into account the personal circumstances and wishes of each individual."

Councillor Lynda Thorne, cabinet member for housing and communities, said: "I want to be very clear that we are not removing occupied tents.

"We want to engage with people to discuss their personal circumstances and wishes and to develop a plan which can help them. Individuals sleeping rough, whether in tents or on the street, are some of the most vulnerable people in our city and we are seriously concerned about their welfare and safety.

"We want to support people and to help them get back on their feet. Helping people off the streets is not an easy task at any time because of the complex problems they often have but there is enough accommodation for rough sleepers in Cardiff. We can deliver tailored recovery packages to rebuild lives and we've already helped 204 people last year into accommodation, people who were once out there.

"We want everyone still on the streets to come in to allow us to do the same for them. Please accept the help we are offering."


Tents being used by rough sleepers on Queen Street in Cardiff city centre RICHARD SWINGLER

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Publication:Wales On Sunday (Cardiff, Wales)
Date:Feb 10, 2019
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