AN MP has dubbed Bournemouth council’s relationship with homelessness charities “disappointing” and says it has a “poor track record” on rough sleeping.

Conor Burns, MP for Bournemouth West, said he had spent the last few months talking with several such groups in the borough, which had told him they have little communication with or support from the council.

He has called for the borough to consult directly with the voluntary sector on the issue, particularly in light of the £390,000 it has just been granted by the Government to tackle rough sleeping and begging.

“Bournemouth council work almost exclusively with St Mungo’s, a laudable national charity,” he said.

“There is a vibrant, teeming third sector who want to be involved in a co-ordinated response to the growing crisis across the conurbation. Organisations like Faithworks, Shelter, the BCHA, the Big Issue, the YMCA and the Salvation Army.”

Referring to Friday’s visit by Cabinet Office Minister David Lidington to mark the Government grant, he said: “It is disappointing this visit has not been organised in such a way as to bring in these groups.” Mr Burns stayed away from the visit because he is angry at the council’s approach.

“There are many local authority areas which received cash and have gone out to consult with the wider voluntary and charitable sector about how to get a better return for taxpayer’s money. I hope at this late stage Bournemouth council can be persuaded to do this. I have been overwhelmed by the scope and diversity of groups wanting to assist.

“Only a couple of weeks ago I went out with the Salvation Army volunteers who were helping people with sores on their feet. There was no representation there from the statutory body there, the council says it is outside and they don’t like being outside.

“Behind every person on the streets is a tragic story, a relationship breakdown, mental health problems, drug or alcohol dependency. That is why I feel we need to bring in all the groups.”

Mr Lidington said a number of groups were invited to the meeting. He added that it is important local authorities and health authorities work with voluntary organisations of all types to deal with many services, not just around rough sleeping. Council leader John Beesley said he “fundamentally disagreed” with Mr Burns on the local authority’s work to address rough sleeping in the borough. “I think our track record, as I explained to the minister and as was evidenced by others around the table who have nothing directly to do with Bournemouth council, has been one of cooperative working with a number of other parties who all have the same objective,” Mr Beesley said. “That is to deal with homelessness and try to remove as many people from rough sleep as we possible can.”