Notorious former budget hotel to be turned into homeless accommodation
The Euro Hotel has been closed since December 2019 following the tragic death of homeless man Jonathan Upex
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By Sarah Ward
The former Euro Hotel in Wellingborough is being turned into a hostel for the homeless.
North Northamptonshire Council has struck an arrangement with owners the Housing Network to bring the boarded up hotel on Midland Road back into use next week.
The authority’s chief executive Rob Bridge used urgent powers earlier this month to make the arrangement as the authority is short of enough immediate access emergency accommodation for rough sleepers, particularly in the Wellingborough area. The impending wintery weather was also a factor in the decision, as like all authorities the council is required to accommodate rough sleepers in particularly cold periods.
Currently a significant number of North Northamptonshire’s homeless are being housed out of county by the authority in Northampton, Peterborough and Bedford.
The Housing Network will refurbish the building which has been closed down since December 2019, the same month that Wellingborough man Jonathan Upex died at the hotel.
The authority has agreed to block book out what will become a 17 bed homeless facility until March 22 and will also pay the costs for a 24 hour security (which it hopes to pay for from a bid to the Covid Outbreak Management Fund).
In order to try and rule out any anti-social behaviour and ensure the facility works well the council will ask the police to carry out regular patrols, will put on outreach sessions outside of office hours and have a single point of contact within the housing team to maintain oversight of those placed there. The name will also be changed from the Euro Hotel, which has a poor reputation in the town.
Taking into account the cost of savings from out of county placements; money it can reclaim from housing benefits and a repurpose of an earlier homeless grant, the authority says the cost of using the building until March will be just under £29,000.
After March the authority intends to apply for government funding to keep the facility running throughout next year and 2023.
A report that will go before the council’s executive this Thursday says:
“The challenges of successfully operating a 17-bed homeless facility which would accommodate 17 vulnerable homeless individuals with a mix of complex support needs is recognised.
“There is a requirement for sufficient staffing and security measures to ensure that such a project is robustly managed to minimise the impact on service users, the local community and the council’s reputation, particularly having regard to the history of the building.
“There is a significant demand for temporary accommodation for single homeless households in North Northamptonshire both those vulnerable individuals to whom the council owes a statutory interim accommodation duty, and rough sleepers who require emergency accommodation through the exercising of discretionary accommodation powers. This need is particularly acute in the Wellingborough locality and particularly acute for single person households who made up 72 per cent of all new homeless approaches to the council during October 2021 (230 individuals).
“Proposed occupants of the facility would be a mix of rough sleepers placed using discretionary powers, and other vulnerable single people to whom the Council owes statutory temporary accommodation duties.”
The authority also agreed earlier this month to put £580,000 towards a match funding bid from the Conservative government’s Rough Sleepers Accommodation Programme. The government has pledged £210m to local authorities to satisfy its manifesto promise to end rough sleeping by the end of this current parliament. It wants to provide an additional 2,700 move on homes and support services for rough sleepers.
If the bid comes through, North Northamptonshire Council intends to buy ten one bed flats to help accommodate the area’s rough sleepers.
According to official figures there were 42 people sleeping rough in North Northamptonshire during September and 26 the following month.
Following the death of Jonathan Upex, 46, a serious case review was carried out and published in March this year. It found that ‘opportunities to protect Jonathan were regularly missed’ by health, social care, probation and council workers.
A former prisoner, who had chronic illness and mental health problems, Jonathan was admitted into hospital 40 times in the last 12 months of his life before being discharged, often back onto the streets. He had 700 contacts with public services in Northamptonshire before his death.
The review made eleven recommendations for the various public authorities in Northamptonshire to change their systems and the way they help people with multiple problems and homelessness like Jonathan. The review had given a preferable timeline of October this year for the recommendations to be enacted, although taking into account the pandemic, did give a further six months with an absolute deadline of April this year.
NN Journal contacted the Northamptonshire Adult Safeguarding Board about the progress of the recommendations and a spokesperson said:
“This has been the first Safeguarding Adults Review (SAR) into the death of a homeless person in Northamptonshire and it is imperative that all agreed recommendations are completed in a full and robust manner. We are assured that all agencies involved are acting upon the proposed recommendations, but the board underestimated the time it would take for these to be complete.
“To date, two of the eleven recommendations have been completed in full and a great deal of multi-agency working, including robust task and finish groups, has and is being undertaken to finalise all actions raised in the recommendations.
“Positive progress has been made with a number of policies being reviewed and refreshed in the North and West of the county. Additional training has and is being put in place to support practitioners with the complex and emerging issue of multiple exclusion homelessness. Additional time will be agreed to complete the evidence that all working practices have been implemented and until that time, the recommendations will not be signed off as complete.”
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