Council leader accuses Government of ‘dumping’ rough sleepers in Ilford

Redbridge Council leader Jas Athwal has accused the government of “dumping” rough sleepers from across London in Ilford’s hotels during the pandemic.

His comments came as a man in his 30s was hospitalised at 8am on February 13 morning during a fight on Cranbrook Road, Ilford, shared on social media.

According to Cllr Athwal, some of the town centre’s current crime and anti-social behaviour problems stem from the government moving vulnerable people to the borough without consulting the council.

He said: “During the pandemic the hotels in Ilford didn’t do too much business, there was no tourism and unknown to us the government quickly started filling up hotels.

“We weren’t asked or told, we were told some time later that they had commandeered hotels for rough sleepers from across London. 

“It was like ‘hold on, when was someone going to tell us?’ We then found out the Home Office had commandeered a hotel for 90 families and the government didn’t tell us.

“Our social services had to go and carry out assessments – this is the government dumping people in places because they haven’t got a clue, if they talk to us we would have to have a say in that.”

Redbridge recently published figures showing it has housed 389 homeless people since the pandemic began under the Everyone In initiative, funded by the Department for Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC).

The DLUHC has been approached for comment on how many people housed under the scheme were moved from elsewhere in the country but had not  responded at the time of publication.

The Labour leader added that he “made the case” for the extra police in Ilford, which sees “the vast majority” of anti-social behaviour crimes in the borough.

Cllr Athwal said Ilford is “on the threshold” of being revitalised, with the approaching opening of the Crossrail link to central London and Mercato Metropolitano.

The Home Office were also approached for comment on whether they consult Redbridge Council before moving people to the borough.

Their spokesperson said they could not comment unless they knew whether Cllr Athwal was referring to Afghan refugees or asylum seekers.

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