Businesses raise concerns over rising number of rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds

A general image of a homeless man in the street.

A general image of a homeless man in the street. - Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto

Concerns have been raised over the growing number of rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds.

Concerns have been raised over the growing number of rough sleepers in Bury St Edmunds.

New figures show there are currently 11 people sleeping on the streets of the popular market town.

Business owners have raised the subject with Mark Cordell, chief executive of Bury’s Business Improvement District (BID) group, Ourburystedmunds.

He said it was a complicated partnership issue, but assured members “I am making the authorities aware of concerns when I am informed of them”. “Last week one of the rough sleepers was found accommodation in Bury within 24 hours of the authorities being contacted so positive outcomes are being achieved within very short timescales,” he said.

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St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils have provided figures that show Bury has the highest number of rough sleepers out of all of their towns. Haverhill has four, Newmarket has three, Mildenhall has two and Brandon has one.

Figures also reveal how the numbers have been increasing over the past three years, with a rise from three to 15 in St Edmundsbury and two to six in Forest Heath.

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The number of people sleeping rough across Suffolk has also increased, from an estimated 82 on any one night in 2016 compared to 41 the previous year.

A spokesman for St Edmundsbury and Forest Heath councils said they have, alongside other Suffolk partners, secured just under £100,000 of Government funding to try to tackle this issue. Part of this cash will be used to employ a rough sleepers prevention and support worker.

The spokesman said: “The housing team’s priority is to help prevent homelessness in the first instance. When someone does find themselves sleeping rough we provide emergency and temporary accommodation through a range of providers.

“Help is available to people that need it. People who use temporary accommodation have a responsibility to behave in a way that causes no danger to themselves or other tenants.

“We work closely with a range of professional and voluntary partners to ensure that rough sleepers access the support that they need. Our Housing Forum provides a way of co-ordinating support and includes social care, police, health workers and probation services.”

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