Council leader: ‘Alcoholic, homeless migrants should be sent back’

A RECOMMENDATION to help homeless alcoholic migrants in Spalding find homes has been slammed for rewarding failure and penalising young families in genuine need of help.

A report looking at services available to those with alcohol problems carried out by a Lincolnshire County Council task force highlighted a problem in Spalding involving a number of migrant workers who sleep rough and drink in the street.

As a result of the investigation, the task force put forward a recommendation that the county council approaches South Holland District Council and other districts in the county, as well as the community and voluntary sectors, to look at the possibility of extending accommodation for those with alcohol dependency.

It said there is evidence that failing to provide homes for alcoholics can have negative consequences such as an increase in crime and begging.

But South Holland District Council leader Gary Porter has branded the idea unworkable because of a shortage of housing and said: “It shouldn’t be about giving these people homes. It should be about sending them home.

“I don’t see why I should have to keep a young family in bed and breakfast accommodation in order to provide a home for an alcoholic.

“We are a compassionate society and if these people who live in Spalding are in need of help and willing to accept the help offered, I have no issue with that, but for those who say ‘no, thanks’ to any help then we should send them home because it’s not fair on everyone else.

“We are not going to build more homes for them and there is already a shortage of housing available for just ordinary people, so for everyone who is prioritised up the waiting list, someone else goes down the list.

“I don’t think we should reward failure and prioritise someone because they have a drink problem.”

The Alcohol Harm Reduction Services in Lincolnshire review report was compiled by the county council’s health scrutiny committee.

The report involved a team going out on the streets of Lincoln on a weekend evening to see first hand the problems caused by alcohol as well as speaking to a number of organisations who come into contact with those who misuse alcohol.

A comparison was also carried out with Spalding, which suggested that there is binge drinking in both places which is having an increasing impact on the ambulance service and admission to hopsitals’ accident and emergency departments.

In 2007-2008, there were nine assaults on ambulance staff across Lincolnshire, rising to 25 assaults in 2009-10 – most of which are believed to have had alcohol as a contributory factor.

The report also shows that an average of more than 1,750 people from the South Holland area are admitted to hospital with alcohol related problems each year and that 45.5 per cent of all recorded violent crime in South Holland and 42 per cent of all domestic violence offences are alcohol related.

The review also made a number of other recommendations aimed at improving services to those with alcohol problems, including separating alcohol services from drug services to make them more approachable and providing more flexible “out of hours” help.