England's Lane: Failure to offer security to Belsize families

Councillors Tom Simon and Luisa Porritt.

Councillors Tom Simon and Luisa Porritt. - Credit: Polly Hancock

Christmas will be especially miserable for England’s Lane families

Amid all the bad news leading up to Christmas, the remaining families based at the England’s Lane Residence, temporary accommodation in our ward, are being moved out of their homes.

Camden Council often vaunts its commitment to protecting the most vulnerable residents during the pandemic, but it has failed to offer security to these homeless families.

READ MORE: Treat homeless families with 'more humanity', Camden Council urged

Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt said the council should "learn the lessons" from how it has treated residents

Belsize councillor Luisa Porritt said the council should "learn the lessons" from how it has treated residents - Credit: Polly Hancock

Two years ago, when the Liberal Democrats put forward a budget amendment calling for washing machines to be installed at the hostel, we were told the council would not invest in on-site facilities – partly because it was considering giving up the lease.

When we queried why the council was taking so much money out of homelessness and temporary accommodation services – we’ve called for funding to be restored for the past two years – the cabinet member assured us new, better accommodation would be built to house those in need.

The council has not built any new temporary accommodation, but it has given up the lease on the hostel early.

This means many families have been pressured to move out right before Christmas, even though the lease expires in March.

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The council has continued this approach throughout the pandemic, and the only pause the cabinet member has agreed to is between the December 23 and 29.

This year has been grim for everyone, but spare a thought for these families being asked to move to places as far away as Wolverhampton and Bridlington during a pandemic.

Residents say they will fight to stay in Camden, which they regard as home

Residents say they will fight to stay in Camden, which they regard as home - Credit: Polly Hancock

Many are single mothers with multiple dependents who have fled domestic violence. Residents born in Camden, or who have lived here for up to 15 years, are being moved out of the borough.

Now we’re in Tier 4, the least the council can do is put this process on hold. Officers must work with residents to ensure accommodation offers suit their individual circumstances.

And the council should offer residents who have already been moved away the opportunity to return to the borough in future.

Camden is, after all, their home.

  • Luisa Porritt and Tom Simon (Lib Dem) are Camden councillors for Belsize ward.

READ MORE: 'It's torture': Homeless single mothers on fear of being 'shipped' out of Camden

READ MORE: Homeless hostel families 'forced out of Camden by Christmas'