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Council housing homeless people in holiday parks amid coronavirus lockdown

PUBLISHED: 13:42 03 April 2020 | UPDATED: 14:06 03 April 2020

Hotels, caravan parks and campsites have been ordered to close amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Archant

Hotels, caravan parks and campsites have been ordered to close amid the coronavirus pandemic. Picture: Archant

Archant

A Norfolk council is renting out caravans as temporary accommodation for homeless people during the coronavirus lockdown.

Last week, local authorities were given orders by government advisers to get all homeless people and rough sleepers into accommodation by the weekend.

Great Yarmouth Borough Council, which has dozens of holiday parks within its remit, confirmed it is using caravans to meet the unprecedented demand.

According to the council, homeless people are usually housed in council houses and in shorter term accommodation options such as bed and breakfasts - with data released by Shelter showing that there were 93 households living in temporary accommodation in Yarmouth this time last year.

But many homeless people are currently living in self-contained chalets in parks otherwise closed to the public.

In a statement, the council said: “The government has advised that caravan parks must remain closed to holidaymakers but has stated that people who live permanently on caravan parks, or are staying in caravan parks as interim abodes where their primary residence is not available, may continue to do so.

“The council is facing increasing demand for its homelessness services and the government is asking councils to seek to move all homeless people into temporary accommodation for their own welfare.

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“As a result, the council is using a range of appropriate accommodation options to meet these needs in these exceptional circumstances.”

But not all holiday park owners involved are happy with the council’s decision to use caravan parks to accommodate homeless people.

Zena Bensley, owner of Florida Holiday Park in Hemsby, said she wanted to close the park entirely to help stop the spread of coronavirus.

But she admitted she could not stop other owners on the site from subletting, confirming that a number of units are being rented out to the council.

She said: “There’s nothing I can do. I’m not happy but the council is stressing that these are vulnerable people and they need to be housed.

People are being advised against travel to caravan parks or holiday homes, but the council is renting some empty units out for homeless people. Picture: James BassPeople are being advised against travel to caravan parks or holiday homes, but the council is renting some empty units out for homeless people. Picture: James Bass

“A couple of owners have told me if I close the park completely they will sue me [the owners].”

Other parks such as Burgh Castle Holiday Park, and Long Beach and Newport Caravan sites in Hemsby, confirmed that the council has not approached them regarding chalet rental for the homeless.

Newport Caravan Park said that their gates “were closed to absolutely everyone, without exception”.


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