BOURNEMOUTH MP Conor Burns and senior Conservative councillors have called on BCP Council to put residents at the centre of decisions following the "ongoing challenges" created after rough sleepers were housed in hotels.

Following a directive from government in late March in response to the coronavirus pandemic, local authorities were asked to provide accommodation for all rough sleepers irrespective of any eligibility rules.

BCP Council said it managed to achieve this apart from around six people who chose to continue to stay on the streets despite Covid-19.

The support involved accommodation for rough sleepers, as well as people who were vulnerably housed or previously sofa-surfing who had nowhere else to go. This included use of hotels in the West Cliff area of Bournemouth.

However, Bournemouth West MP Conor Burns and Westbourne and West Cliff ward councillors John Beesley and Nicola Greene have voiced concerns about the impact this has had on residents.

A joint statement from the three Conservatives said: “The government initiative to remove rough sleepers from the streets as the impact of Covid-19 became clear was compassionate and supportive, recognising the needs of a group of especially vulnerable people.

“Many of these people have since gone on to be supported into more permanent housing with other health and wellbeing services wrapped around them.

“However, this has not been achieved without a significant impact on the residents of the densely populated West Cliff, many of whom are themselves vulnerable and who have not been consulted, nor kept informed.

"Indeed, since lockdown began, the impacts of anti-social behaviour on residents and the other hotels, both in the immediate area and on West Cliff Green, as well as regular late night noise and disturbance has been ignored by the Council.

"It is vital that the Council start to consider the needs of local residents and put them at the centre of any future decisions.”

To support the work of local authorities, the government has provided funds to help secure move-on accommodation for those who had been supported during the pandemic.

BCP Council said it had submitted a bid for and is waiting to hear the outcome. If secured, this money would assist the vulnerable groups, prevent their return to rough sleeping and help get them back into mainstream accommodation, the council said.

Councillor Kieron Wilson, BCP Council portfolio holder for housing, said: “Hotel bookings were secured in the West Cliff area but also across many other hotels across the wider area. The council were very conscious of the potential community impacts and security guards were funded at each of the hotels and the team made sure that multi-agency support services were in place to address the varied and complex needs of the residents.

"The housing team continues to work very closely with community safety colleagues and the Police to risk assess each placement, respond to issues and move people between hotels or evict where we need to.

“Considerable numbers of people have gone from the hotels into more settled accommodation and support environments that prevent them returning to the streets. Central government have commended the progress made locally, with the Minister for Rough Sleeping and Housing, Luke Hall MP, visiting the area on 28 August to see the work in action. Work continues as approximately 100 people remain in various hotels but the majority should be moved on by the end of September.”