From: Patrick Williams, Ganton Place, St Leonards
RE: Sea Road group support. Roger, I have looked at your publication and admire your insight into the homeless but with all due respect your excursion into homelessness was a personal decision and included an ambition to hitch hike around the United States as a teenager, a desire many in the 1970s would have liked to indulge in, and your discovery and acceptance of Christianity during the course of your travels is to be applauded.
This does not address the growing community of homeless that are now settling in the Sea and Seaside Road area of St Leonards as these are individuals and couples who have, due to continued cuts in Hastings Borough Council budgets, been left to get on with setting up their own alternative community in a public area at a time when East Sussex County Council and HBC are promoting the advantages of the Hastings area, which I presume is where the yearly increase in Council Tax is spent.
The solution to the problem is not charity support but real intervention by the designated services with the goal of solving the problems of these individuals and finding suitable shelter and respite for them, not living in tents and sodden sleeping bags in a public shelter, as well as the caravans and vans that are now reappearing being observed by residents, tourists, runners and being regarded as an unfortunate result of their combined problems (alcohol/substance abuse, mental health, poverty, etc). These are all issues that can and should be resolved by the local agencies.
This is not an experiment in deprived community bonding and a mutual support group but a real problem growing worse on a weekly basis.