Oxford’s Labour councillors today voted against supporting Oxford’s rough sleepers, describing designs by Oxford Brookes University, in partnership with Crisis homeless support charity, as a ‘gimmick’.
The motion, written by City Centre campaigner Conor McKenzie and presented to council by Cllr Andrew Gant, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Oxford City Council, put forward this motion calling for ‘bold ideas and bold solutions’ to tackle Oxford’s rough sleeping crisis.
The idea came from a partnership between homeless charity Crisis and Oxford Brookes University, a scheme that puts getting people off the street and into stable residence at the forefront.
By getting people off the streets and into stable accommodation, this then allows them to receive the support needed to get out of homelessness. This is a proposal supported and called for by national homeless charity Crisis, along with other homeless support charities.
The motion was passed, but after a severe Labour amendment that removed all commitments to improve the situation for Oxford's rough sleepers, while inserting much self-congratulation.
Commenting on the defeat of the motion, Conor McKenzie said:
"This was a forward-looking, ambitious proposal that would have the potential to make a huge difference to ending rough sleeping in Oxford. As a city, we could be pioneers of something amazing, making real strides forward in ending the crisis.
"It wasn't to be this time though. I had hope that some Labour councillors might join us to get this proposal passed, since during the campaign earlier this year I heard some positive comments from my Labour opponent that he would be different on homelessness. He unfortunately decided to join other Labour councillors in defeating this proposal though.
"This is the same old self-congratulation and bluster that we have continually heard from this City Council. When the crunch comes to make big strides forward, they cop-out.
"We will keep working to make the lives those left behind in Oxford better, fighting to make Oxford a fairer city."
Adding, Andrew Gant said:
“Labour councillors proposed a wrecking amendment which removed the substance of the motion and any clear commitments to solving the crisis, leaving it with just the same old self-congratulation we have seen endlessly.
“Homelessness is a serious issue and needs ambitious proposals like this if we are going to solve it. To call it a ‘gimmick’ is an insult to Crisis, Oxford Brookes University, and to the many people rough sleeping who are crying out for this support to allow them to get back on their feet.”