From: Marcus Whittaker, Grosvenor Gardens, West St Leonards
Anyone who thinks the individuals should be allowed to stay there in the present situation obviously has not seen the squalor there in the last few weeks.
In Patrick Williams’ letter in this paper last week he calls for real intervention by designated services to find suitable shelter for these individuals. The unfortunate truth is that night shelter and temporary accommodation has been offered many times to these individuals but it is not taken up because they prefer to live in the shelters on the seafront. You must ask the individuals themselves why they do not take up an offer of overnight and temporary accommodation, but I would suggest that it is because they do not want to sign up to the rules and regulations of living in a hostel or any sort of accommodation.
Given that these individuals have been there for many months, if not years and all routes to accommodation have failed, I would suggest that ‘real intervention’ means re-designing the shelters with lockable doors or shutters. The doors would be opened at 7am and closed at 7pm. Not ideal, but I and other residents would rather have a seafront facility they can use 12hrs a day, rather than the current eyesore residents and visitors can use for zero hours a day.
As I write this, I note that Hastings Borough Council will be closing and fencing off each shelter for three months for routine maintenance and decoration, it would be absolutely pointless to renovate these shelters only to have individuals permanently occupying them all over again next year.