Labour councillor hits out over Westcliff 'shanty town'


A Labour councillor has spoken out over the plight of a group of homeless people forced to live out of garages in Westcliff-on-Sea.

The garages, off Ceylon Road in Westcliff-on-Sea had come to the attention of the Labour councillors for Milton Ward, Julian Ware-Lane and Cheryl Nevin, a month previously. Following coverage of the site last week, in the local and national media, Cllr Ware-Lane ventured down at the weekend.

Cllr Ware-Lane said, "I visited these people at the weekend, and spent an hour and a half listening to them and to their stories. These are clearly people in desperate situations, who have fallen through the cracks of society. Here they have found a sense of camaraderie, and though they may have made mistakes in life, it is clear that they are badly in need of our help, not our judgement."

He added, "It saddens me that this is where we have come to, though I cannot say I am surprised. The most vulnerable in modern Britain have been for five years now the target of a Conservative government which doesn't care for them. Too little has been done to help the homeless, and it seems David Cameron would rather sweep people such as these under the carpet and forget about them."

Help has been offered, although sometimes the individual is not easily assigned help. Each homeless person has a unique back-story, and ongoing problems, that can make intervention problematic. It is a situation that is not helped by cutbacks to public services, and it is often the charitable sector that has to pick up the reins.

"Ongoing substance issues  can also appear to be a blocker", added Cllr Ware-Lane, "and I am looking into the feasibility of a wet room or something similar."

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