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Bus used by homeless people in Sittingbourne to close

The owner of a repurposed bus offering shelter for homeless people has agreed to close it following concerns.

Tony Cooper met with officials from Swale council to discuss the bus, which has been parked in Crown Quay Lane, Sittingbourne.

Staff at the authority said they were worried there were no toilets and the operation lacked plans to ensure people are safe.

KMTV spoke to Mr Cooper about have to close the bus

Fifty-two-year-old Mr Cooper, who set up the bus in 2017, said he is concerned not all of the residents will be treated as a priority.

He said: “It's Swale council that wants the bus gone because it says all the time people are on the bus they don’t engage with the council.

“Everyone has registered with the council but they have guaranteed now that they’ll house everyone that’s on the bus at the moment.

“I agreed to get rid of the bus on September 2, but I told them I’ll definitely get another one.”

He added Kent County Council (KCC), the authority in charge of most roads, has said he will be able to park a new bus somewhere in Swale.

“It’s got to move, we know that, but I spoke to KCC about these concerns I had because after the meeting I sent some people from the bus to register with the council and they came back as not a priority,” Mr Cooper added.

"I agreed to get rid of the bus on September 2, but I told them I'll definitely get another one" - Tony Cooper

A Swale council spokeswoman confirmed the bus would close on Monday, September 2.

“Our teams will be working with the individuals who are currently using and staying on the bus to try and find them a long-term solution and place to stay,” she added.

“Mr Cooper has also agreed to work with us on a new project to provide help to rough sleepers.”

It comes as councillors gave the green light for staff to spend £150,000 of government cash on projects to help rough sleepers.

As well as setting up its own night shelter during winter months, the money will be used to employ a rough sleeping co-ordinator to work with charities and organisations to get people in permanent accommodation.

Read more: All the latest news from Sittingbourne

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