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'People feel Castlefield used as housing dumping ground'
CASTLEFIELD is being used as a 'dumping ground' for people needing temporary housing, Labour councillors claim.
A Wycombe Labour petition, asking council chiefs to reconsider using the Star blocks building, has attracted over 500 signatures.
The party says it has found evidence that the run down building is being used as temporary accommodation already. Councillors said this ran contrary to what has been said by housing chief Cllr David Carroll.
Wycombe District Council has confirmed to the BFP that five units are being used.
Labour said the building is not up to scratch, with problems including poor ventilation, mould growing on walls and curtains.
Star blocks, which was taken on by housing association Red Kite last year, is earmarked for demolition with new housing to be built around 2016.
Ward Cllr Rachel Knight organised a petition against using the building for temporary accommodation. It has gained over 500 names.
The Labour Councillor said: “It shows the strength of feeling within the community.
“Already, lots of people feel Castlefield is being used as a dumping ground by the council and we don't think this is the solution.”
Wycombe District Council spokesman Sue Robinson said: “We currently have five units at the Star blocks that are used as temporary accommodation with the first of these housed on April 30.
“These are part of the fifty floating units we agreed with Red Kite at transfer.
“Three of the homeless households are families with one or more adults in employment and should certainly not be viewed as either vulnerable or a burden to the area as has been implied.”
Council homes were sold to Red Kite last year.
Mrs Robinson said:“At the moment we are not using any more units than were specified in the agreement.
“The location of these was always to be agreed between the parties and the agreement did not specify any sites that could not be used. The property is required to meet the fit to let standard.
“Red Kite provides temporary accommodation for households that are referred from the council and to whom we have a rehousing duty.
“The council has sought to be entirely open and transparent about how we are addressing the challenge of increasing homelessness.”
She added: “The council would never tolerate the use of any substandard temporary accommodation.”
The council is reviewing its homelessness strategy.