UPDATE: Doncaster Council to apply for Tent City eviction order on Friday
Doncaster Council says it will apply to the courts on Friday for an order to evict the people living at Tent City, due to their belief that the camp has become 'increasingly unsafe'.
Set up to provide shelter to the borough's homeless, 'Doncaster Tent City' sprung up on council-owned land in the town centre previously occupied by the Doncaster Civic Theatre on November 19.
Earlier this month organisers said that all residents would have vacated the land by December 10.
However after they failed to close the camp on the agreed date Doncaster Council confirmed they would be applying for a possession order due to their belief the camp is becoming 'increasingly unsafe' and was unsustainable.
A Doncaster Council spokesman told the Free Press that a decision would be made over the order by a judge at the town's county court on Friday morning.
If the order is granted, Doncaster Council will then order the camp's residents to vacate the land within a time-frame set by the judge presiding over the case.
Jo Miller, Chief Executive, Doncaster Council said: “Homelessness is rising in most of our towns and cities, and Doncaster is no different to any other in that respect. However no one needs to sleep rough or be homeless at Christmas and we are working hard with our partners towards making sure that accommodation and support is offered to those who need it.
“That's why we've worked positively with the Tent City organisers since the day they arrived on 19 November. They wanted to raise awareness of homelessness issues and help those in need and we've supported them in that from the word go. Tent City planned to be here for a very short period and said that they were going to close on 10th December. Unfortunately that hasn't happened.
“We've had staff available from across the Doncaster partnership agencies day and night, working with Tent City organisers and those who are camped there. Working with our partners, we have identified 60 people who have said they are homeless, and all have been offered the opportunity to speak to services and get support. Only 43 people have taken up this offer and 17 decided not to engage with any services. 33 people have been offered accommodation, 18 took up this offer and 15 people refused. Of the remaining 10 people, 8 were not homeless and 2 had no access to public funds, so they were offered other options.
“We will continue to work very hard with our partners to assist those at Tent City and others that are homeless, but we have come to the view that Tent City itself is no longer sustainable and we must bring this to a resolution. The site is acting as a magnet for people from within Doncaster and outside the borough with some people choosing to stay on the site rather than take up offers of accommodation and others who are not homeless being drawn to it. We are at the point where the camp, despite its very best intentions, has the potential to undo some of the good work it set out to do by not moving on.
“For these reasons, we need the camp to come to an end, so we have applied to the courts for an order of possession of the site, which if granted means it must be vacated. Though the camp would be dismantled, our work with the organisers and those in need will continue.
“This is a difficult decision, and not one that will be universally popular, but we believe it's the right course of action. We must focus on the needs of those who really require our help, rather than enabling the continuation of an increasingly unsafe site, where those staying there can become ever more vulnerable and potentially not getting the support they need, which is surely in everyone’s interests.”