Homeless couple say council is not doing enough to help them after six weeks on the streets

Huntingdonshire District Council

Huntingdonshire District Council - Credit: Archant

A Huntingdonshire couple who have spent more than six weeks sleeping rough say the district council is not doing enough to help them.

Mark McMillan, 54, and partner Tina Weston, 46, have been forced to sleep in sheds and parks, as well as staying with friends and family, for more than a month and say

they are in desperate need of emergency accommodation.

But according to Huntingdonshire District Council, the couple do not meet all the criteria for emergency accommodation, something which Mr McMillan disputes, but the authority has said it will continue to provide help in the meantime.

Mr McMillan, from St Ives, said: “We’ve been sofa-surfing, we’ve ended up in hospital, we have both had breathing problems, I’ve been showing signs of hypothermia because of the cold.

“I’ve had enough and, if it wasn’t for Tina, I don’t think I’d still be here.”

Mr McMillan has seen both doctors at GP practices and consultants at Hinchingbrooke Hospital in the past month and has been diagnosed with angina,

Most Read

depression, and a possible chronic lung condition.

He added: “We’re not alcoholics or drug takers, but I think that if we were it would be a different kettle of fish, we would be a higher priority for the council.”

According to Mr McMillan, the couple have been rated as band B by the council, with the highest priority for emergency accommodation being those in band A. Both Mr McMillan and Ms Weston are in receipt of employment support allowance benefit.

Councillor Darren Tysoe, executive councillor for operational resources, said: “The housing team has been providing advice and assistance to Mr McMillan over the last few weeks regarding his housing situation.

“He has been advised of the appropriate options in his particular case to help resolve his housing difficulties. All supporting information, including conversations with his GP and associated medical records have been taken into account to determine what duties are owed to him and how the council is able to assist him.

“Whilst this may not extend to the provision of emergency temporary accommodation at this time, Mr McMillan will continue to be provided with the appropriate help required.”

In a report to the council’s over-view and scrutiny panel in September, it was revealed that “homelessness acceptances” increased in Huntingdonshire throughout 2015/16 and the ‘trend continued’ into 2016/17.

According to figures presented to councillors, for most of last year, there were “typically 10 households or individuals in bed and breakfast”.

This year, the council says that figure has almost trebled to between 25-30 families or individuals in temporary accommodation at any one time.

The council said a number of factors had caused the increase, including private landlords evicting tenants and “the impact of welfare reforms on housing affordability”.