Sheffield Tent City protesters call for fresh negotiations with council bosses over 'homeless crisis'

Sheffield Tent City campaigners.

Sheffield Tent City campaigners.

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Campaigners who set up a 'tent city' to provide shelter for people living on the streets are calling for fresh negotiations with council chiefs to find a solution to the 'homeless crisis'.

Those behind the Sheffield Tent City project made the direct plea to bosses at Sheffield Council during a protest outside Sheffield Law Courts - after the authority took legal action to try and oust them from a site near Park Hill flats.

Volunteers helped a number of homeless people to pitch tents on land at South Street in November last year. The council served an eviction notice for them to leave by 4pm on New Year's Day, but today there are still about 30 people residing on the site.

The council served legal papers against the group in a further bid to move them on. But as the case was being heard today a number of campaigners called for the authority to hold new talks rather than take legal action.

Volunteer Asif Malik, aged 46, of Hillsborough, said: "It is a crisis when you have people living in tents. We don't think enough help is being offered. It would be great if the council could sit down with us and try and find a solution that works for everybody."

However, Sheffield Council and a charity which helps homeless people hit back and said they have offered plenty of help.

Tim Renshaw, chief executive officer at the Cathedral Archer project, said: "We are convinced that a single place for rough sleepers to meet and sleep at will never work.

“All the research around homelessness, and our own experience, shows that supporting people to overcome homelessness is a steady process of consistent support and understanding, with each individual setting their own goals and receiving the right support to meet them. A place to stay and exist like tent city, regardless of good intentions, can, at best, only keep people in poverty."

Councillor Jayne Dunn, cabinet member for housing, said: “We have real safeguarding concerns about the situation and do not want it to attract vulnerable people who can get support and accommodation from established services."

She added that "to the very best of our knowledge" everyone at Tent City has been offered accommodation.

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