Liberal Democrats have welcomed the passing of a motion which calls on Oxford City Council to provide emergency accommodation to people rough sleeping every night forecast to be 0 degrees or below, after their year long campaign.
In winter last year the Liberal Democrats called on Oxford City Council to extend the Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP) to cover accommodation for people rough sleeping every night which is 0 degrees or below, they also stood on the commitment to do so in the May 2018 elections.
Extending SWEP to every night below 0 degrees was opposed by the ruling Labour group on the City Council.
After consistently being the most vocal party in Oxford on the issue of homelessness, the Liberal Democrats have been successful in persuading Labour councillors to bring a motion forward backing the principle at yesterday’s full Council meeting.
Earlier this year the Liberal Democrats were also successful in ensuring the City Council tightened up its use of Community Protection Notices, which had been used to threaten people who were sleeping rough with up-to-£2,500 fines and the removal of belongings.
Liberal Democrat councillors are now calling on the City Council to ensure this new policy to extend SWEP to every night below 0 degrees is actually followed-through, after the motion left the commitment as vague, and to make it cover temperatures below 4 degrees.
Commenting, Cllr Andrew Gant, Leader of the Opposition on Oxford City Council, said:
“A single night sleeping rough is a disaster, but in near freezing temperatures it is lethal.
“The Liberal Democrats had called for SWEP to be extended to every night of extreme temperatures last winter, so we’re delighted to have won Labour round in time for the next.
“We now need to ensure that warm words are accompanied by warm places to sleep.”
In a speech calling for SWEP to be extended to every night last year, former councillor Liz Wade said on 17th November 2017:
“My fridge runs at 4 degrees centigrade. No one should have to bed down in the streets at this temperature- let alone at zero.
“Rough Sleepers are less resilient than the rest of us because of health problems caused or exacerbated by living on the streets. Last week the temperatures in Oxford were the lowest in England.”