Caravans for the homeless

Councillor Bob Brierley

Councillor Bob Brierley

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HOMELESS Wiganers should be rehoused in caravans - that’s the controversial proposal of outspoken councillor Bob Brierley.

He claims his Stepping Stones scheme could slash council house waiting lists.

And with a leading manufacturers of static caravans here in Wigan, he says it could also create much-needed craftsman’s jobs.

Hindley Green Independent Coun Brierley believes that, with funding for housing building being cut, Wigan and Leigh Housing would be able to buy FOUR fully-furnished mobile homes for the price of one traditional council home.

He envisages tenants progressing from a mobile home to a traditional council property, if they prove to be socially responsible tenants.

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He says Wigan has more than enough reclaimed land to set up estates of the new-style council homes.

Pemberton Leisure Homes are studying Coun Brierley’s proposals “with interest” before deciding whether to comment.

But cabinet member for environment and communities Kevin Anderson said: “I think this a pretty poor idea.

“Where do we put a caravan site, where do we get the money to buy the land and caravans and most importantly, caravans are designed for short term living.

“They are likely to cause more problems than they solve in terms of cramped conditions, temporary arrangements and location causing further disruption, especially for families in crisis.”

Council director of places Gillian Bishop said: “The primary aim of the borough’s Homelessness Strategy is to prevent homelessness and minimise the impact of its effects.

“Wherever possible, we try to find permanent housing solutions and try to avoid the use of temporary accommodation because of the further disruption that it causes to family life.

“As a result of this work, whilst the number of people asking for help remains high, the numbers of people becoming homelessness in the borough is lower than it ever has been. We have a number of very good private landlords in the borough and are now working with them more closely as they are able to offer long term, quality accommodation.”

Coun Brierley, who lives in a bungalow but frequently tours and holidays in his own motorhomes, says that he came up with the scheme after hearing news reports that the North West is now the highest number of people losing their homes and seeking a council house.

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And points out that there are over 5,000 people on Wigan and Leigh Housing’s waiting list.

He said: “From the latest figures Wigan and Leigh Homes spend over £15m on council house repairs a year.

“My proposal is to create a static site of leisure homes where we can allow young families accommodation to help with the homeless problems.

“The ‘Stepping Stone’ scheme would allow young families in these hard times to walk into a new home with everything to hand.

“But included would be an agreement that if they look after their accommodation and are good neighbours they are allowed to apply for a larger family homes as their families grow.

“This agreement of them looking after these leisure homes, will help the Council to save monies in the longer term when they are eventually housed in a Council property because I believe that it will result in them being kept in better condition and not needing so much maintenance.”

Coun Brierley said: “I understand the council pays private landlords who accommodated our homeless young families the figure of £450 per month or £5,000 per year, while hotels cost of £2,000 per month or £24,000 per year

“As this council is facing cuts in its budgets, we could create, new council homes for less then £20,000 each with getting our money back within seven years and lower maintenance costs.

“I think that they should look at this carefully.”

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