Hundreds of ex-offenders and drug addicts are being moved to Medway, council report claims
by Dan Bloom
Hundreds of ex-prisoners and drug addicts with no links to
Medway are being moved here from the rest of Kent, a shock report
Whole blocks of houses are being used by firms providing
high-needs “supported housing”, councillors have been told.
About half the clients, including ex-offenders, the homeless and
women fleeing domestic violence, do not come from the Towns.
A damning Medway Council report said officers had little power
to stem the tide of vulnerable people, who are living mostly in
central Chatham near the Luton arches.
The council is paying out £170 per person to the housing
providers yet has no legal powers to improve accommodation beyond
minimum standards, the report said – leaving the system “open to
Councillors have written to Medway’s three MPs and welfare
minister Lord Freud pleading for laws to be tightened up.
Cllr Matt Bright (Con), chairman of the task force which drew up
the report, said: “These clients go into a house, the neighbours
are not happy, an offer is made, they move out and before you know
it a whole street is dominated by these residents.
“I don’t think it’s fair that people who have no previous
connections to Medway should end up here and our council taxpayers
have to foot the bill.
“If they come from Sevenoaks it should be Sevenoaks Council’s
Task force member Cllr Glyn Griffiths (Lab) said: “Almost the
success of organisations in the area attracting people is turning
us into a magnet.
“You end up with an ongoing spiral for those people and there’s
a real danger of that happening here.”
Rochester and Strood MP Mark Reckless said: “I want to use the
ammunition this task force has provided to ensure ministers wake up
to this situation and do what’s necessary.”
Many of the houses are
around Luton Road, pictured
The task force was set up after ex-prisoner Peter Penn
complained to a council meeting about the accommodation he had been
given after leaving jail.
His provider was a firm called Lifeline Support Community, which
was given almost £4m by Medway Council over four years and in its
heyday had 220 clients.
Mr Penn only stayed for one night in his accommodation, claiming
to councillors that it was “rat-infested, damp with no bedding
available and widespread drug-dealing”.
Lifeline stopped operating for Medway Council in March 2012.
To date, civil courts have ordered the firm to pay almost
£10,000, and former staff have won employment tribunal payouts,
according to court documents seen by the Medway Messenger.
Cllr Rupert Turpin (Con), who looked into Mr Penn’s claims and
brought them to the task group, welcomed the report’s findings.
He said: “The report highlights a danger, moving into the
future, of predatory pseudo-charities possibly moving in for
financial rather than altruistic reasons.”
Full report in today's Medway Messenger.
- Click here for more Medway news...
- Click here for more news from across the county...