Published: January 7, 2010
Council welcomes YMCA's adoption of Highbridge homeless facility

Town councillors have this week welcomed the news that a council-run home which provides emergency accomodation for homeless people and families in Highbridge is to be transferred to the YMCA.

Duncan Harvey of Sedgemoor District Council discussed the council's plans for Wade House at Monday's town council meeting.

It follows the September 2009 Executive meeting of SDC, where it was proposed that the premises should be transferred to Bridgwater YMCA on a 125 year lease, subject to the YMCA being able to deliver the service, SDC assisting with improvements, SDC signposting services and SDC helping with searches for external finance.

Mr Harvey explained that the number of homeless had dropped dramatically owing to preventative steps, including the construction of much social housing in the area.

As a result the facility was now financially unviable and needed a subsidy of £100,000 in this financial year, which the Council could no longer afford.

Cllr Janet Keen said: "I support this plan as once it settles down it is likely to be cheaper than the consequences of a family splitting up."

Cllr John Morgan added: "Burnham is a nice place to live but SDC has a legal obligation to house the homeless. Is this service a beacon to those outside the area or a service only for those in the area?"

Duncan Harvey responded that: "We are not in the ethos of importing people except in exceptional circumstances such as domestic violence or for improved employment."

Cllr Chris Williams asked "whether SDC has to make a revenue contribution to YMCA for the provision of the service," to which Mr Harvey said no.

However, SDC is talking to the Homes & Community agency regarding grant funding for capital expenditure on improvements.

Cllr Mike Mansfield told the meeting he is "sad to see SDC sell off another property" while Cllr Joe Leach said the scheme was a "good idea" and that the "YMCA would do a very good job".


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