The Selby community is getting behind a local homeless charity with a petition to stop Selby District Council from “blocking their attempts to make real progress” by denying them permanent residential status and planning permission.
Sleepsafe in Selby, who have been operating in the town for two years, are a homeless charity that provide support, guidance and temporary accommodation to those most in need. Coordinator Tracey Roberts set up the charity in August 2019 and initially received the backing of Selby District Council by granting them a ‘trial period’ to prove they would not cause disturbance to the area. However, the two-year trial period is up and Selby District Council have ‘gone back on their word’, offering the charity another two-year trial instead of full planning permission.
Tracey said: “There is no reason for them to go back on their word. The place looks lovely and there has been no anti-social behaviour. “We’re a charity so we run based off funding and people don’t always want to offer funds if we don’t have a permanent residency status. This means, many of our projects have to go on hold. She added: “It feels like they’re just imposing unachievable conditions on us. They said we can’t have anyone staying in our accommodation for longer than 56 days. So it seems like they just want us to throw people out after the 56th day, there is no leeway. All we’re asking of the council is to be reasonable.”
Tracey started a petition on Change.org to try fight back against the council’s decision and has received backing from the community - with more than 1000 signatures. The charity has also recently been awarded grant’s of £10,000 from the National Lottery and £4000 from Comic Relief, and another £15,000 from Brelms Trust. Selby businesses have also been offering their support.
Greencore in Selby has even sent along their electrical contractors to wire up the charity’s laundry and office area. Tracey said: “We have been shown so much support from the whole of Selby and wish to say thank you.” In response to Tracey’s comments regarding the two year lease, a spokesperson for Selby District Council has highlighted that the local authority is working closely with Sleepsafe but “needs more time” to establish how the charity can ensure the standards needed for permanent planning permission.
The spokesperson said: “In the Selby district, we work with a range of homelessness accommodation providers and charities to ensure that all accommodation on offer is suitable and operated in line with the consistent standards that are set out in homelessness legislation. We also perform assessments to ensure that all such accommodation is only provided to those who genuinely qualify for this provision. We are grateful to all providers who work within these criteria to offer safe and suitable accommodation to those who genuinely need it.
“We’ve monitored the situation closely over the last 12 months of temporary operation of the site on the land off Bawtry Road but need more time to understand how we can ensure the standards needed for permanent planning consent can be met by the charity. “For this reason, we granted temporary consent to the operation continuing for a further two years. This is considered sufficient time for all agencies to work to support the accommodation provider to meet the necessary standards of provision, should they wish to continue to do so on a more permanent basis. In addition, this will allow for the multi-agency resolution of related antisocial behaviour concerns. “Along with the other agencies involved, we recognise the efforts of the facility and the applicant in providing temporary accommodation for those most in need for the last 12 months, but are unable to grant permanent consent to this operation until such time that our requirements are met in full to ensure that it supports the safe, effective and fair treatment of anyone who is homeless in the district.”
Greencore electrical contractors have been helping the charity. (12-08-61 SU)