Homeless shelter stays open amid council row

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Front of Kingsway House. Pic © JMU Journalism

A controversial homeless shelter will now remain open, despite allegations of drug abuse on the site, and being due to close its doors to rough sleepers on Wednesday.

Kingsway House was designated as a refuge by Signature Living independently of Liverpool City Council, and the local authority says it did not order it to be shut down.

Plans were only initially made for arrangements to last until the end of February, but the deadline has now been extended.

Signature Living boss, Lawrence Kenwright, who set up the homeless shelter in December, revealed last night that he will keep the Hatton Garden centre open, in a Facebook post challenging Assistant Mayor and City Centre Councillor Nick Small.

Cllr Small claimed on Twitter that 71 needles had been recovered from the site on Friday as “drug use is so prevalent there”, accusing the privately-run former LJMU facility of “putting vulnerable people at risk”.

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Mr Kenwright told JMU Journalism: “Firstly, I’m very glad that the shelter at Kingsway House is to remain open, and I am happy for everyone who is relying on it at the moment.

“However, I am displeased with the city council as they have done nothing responsible towards these people living on the streets. We are just filling the void because of the lack of council accommodation.”

Back of Kingsway House. Pic © JMU Journalism

In a statement on Twitter, Cllr Small said: “I welcome voluntary work to support homeless people, but any voluntary initiatives like Kingsway House do need to be done in a way that doesn’t undermine statutory services like those provided at Labre House by Liverpool City Council and the Whitechapel Centre.”

In a post shared on Facebook on Sunday, Mr Kenwright hit back at Cllr Small, saying: “We are just filling the void, that actually is the Council’s responsibility it is not ours, but the people of this city have rallied to ensure that we will not accept this any longer.”

Cllr Small is one of two assistant mayors of the city and has cabinet responsibility for schools and education.

Liverpool City Council had promised no-one would end up on the streets after Kingsway House closed its doors, which was originally scheduled to happen on Wednesday February 28th.

About Ed Baldwin, JMU Journalism