A HOSPITAL boss says he was “taken aback” by the number of homeless people in Bournemouth during a visit to the town centre at the weekend.

Mark Mould, the chief operating officer of Poole Hospital, took to Twitter to make the comment on Sunday.

He said: “In Bournemouth town centre yesterday.

“Always look to support homeless in the best way we can - but taken aback by the number of people approaching for money.

“Seen 30 million pledge from government to improve rough sleeping. Is this only part of solution?”

His comments come as Bournemouth council has been awarded a £387,500 share of the £30m fund to increase the capacity of its service, which is run with homelessness charity St Mungo’s.

Rough sleeping in Bournemouth quadrupled between 2010 and 2017 with the number of people sleeping on the streets rising from 12 to 48 and the council almost £10m each year on services for people faced with homelessness.

Council leader, Cllr John Beesley, said: ‘’We are delighted to receive confirmation that our bid has been awarded in full by central government to fund additional rough sleeper services.

“The funds are to be mobilised as soon as possible, with the aim of reducing rough sleeper numbers ideally before this winter and for services up until the end of March 2019.”

Previous attempts by the council to tackle the issue have come in for heavy criticism with the installation of anti-sleeping bars on town centre benches drawing national condemnation and a petition against it using bagpipe music to deter rough sleepers reaching 4,000 signatures in 2015.

Cllr Robert Lawton, cabinet member for housing, described the challenge as “significant” but said that the extra funds would help the council’s work.

“The funds will provide valuable additional capacity for our established rough sleeper team delivered by St Mungo’s, increase our Housing First project which sources self-contained accommodation with intense support for the most complex rough sleepers (also delivered by St Mungo’s), recruiting an additional psychological specialist to work with individuals, and increase resources to help rough sleepers into the private rented sector,” he said.

“The challenge is significant but we are committed to making prompt and effective use of this additional fund and we know that it will make a very real and positive difference to many people’s lives.”