A number of local people have been sending in pictures of beggars along Melcombe Street and Melcombe Place between Marylebone and Baker Street Stations which your Councillors have been passing onto our Council problem solvers and the dedicated Ward Police officers. Residents also note that many beggars’ posters appear to be in the same handwriting and suspect gangs to be behind this illegal activity.
We have also been monitoring rough sleeping around Marble Arch. The security team commissioned by the Marble Arch Business Improvement District (BID) has also been engaging with rough sleepers at all the hotspots on and around Edgware Road and Marble Arch tube stations.
A new section on the Council’s website gives guidance on ways to help someone sleeping rough and how to donate to charities who are helping rough sleepers turn their lives around.
Since a High Court ruling in late 2017, it has become much harder for the Government and Councils to send back homeless EU citizens to their home country if they are not seeking work. This ruling has contributed to rough sleeping more than tripling across Westminster. The Council has increased its spending to £6.5m to help deal with the issue, investing more than any other local authority. Homelessness is not restricted to migrants, as it can also be the result of factors such as relationship breakdowns, mental health issues and job loss. Drugs and alcohol often play a part. If you are concerned about someone sleeping rough please alert Streetlink using their Android or iPhone app, or via the StreetLink website. Your alert will help local outreach teams try to connect with those you are worried about.
Council leader, Cllr Nickie Aiken continues to campaign for greater powers for Local Authorities. She featured on the BBC’s Inside Out programme which investigated whether councils should be given more powers over Eastern European rough sleepers.
With the merger of the tri-borough police forces there has been a loss of police numbers so your Councillors are exploring smart effective ways to compensate. We have now held the inaugural Safer Business Network meeting of the newly established Bryanston and Dorset Square Business Community Forum. This is in addition to the established Safer Neighbourhoods committee run by residents who meet regularly. Our businesses could provide and receive very important intelligence and the Safer Business Network provides an appropriate platform.