Speaking at the Neighbourhoods, Inclusion, Communities, and Equalities Committee (NICE) in City Chambers on Monday 8th October 2018 Cllr Robert Nemeth, the Conservative Group Spokesman for NICE Committee, raised his concerns over the way funding for rough sleepers is distributed and spent within our city.
Cllr Nemeth began by expressing thanks and praise for the contributions of hundreds of volunteers and community groups – such as Off the Fence, Sussex Homeless Support, and the Churches Network, plus a plethora of other donors and fundraisers. He went on to thank those employed to tackle street sleeping – whether they be at Brighton and Hove City Council, Brighton Housing Trust, or St Mungo’s – showing appreciation to them all for going over and above what they are paid to do.
Cllr Nemeth is the Conservative representative on the three councillor Brighton Centre Night Shelter Working Group. Speaking in the Chamber Cllr Nemeth said “It was here [Brighton Centre Night Shelter] that I started learning the ropes, in the good company of Councillors Moonan and Gibson, and I witnessed some phenomenal work from volunteers and officers.
“Today is not an opportunity to vote on the strategy itself, and I can’t in any good conscience do anything to embrace it at all, as it is clearly not working. So I won’t even be noting it; I feel that strongly against it.”
Real Battles Needed To Solve This Problem
In an impassioned speech, Cllr Nemeth went on to say “I think that the right rough sleeping strategy would be a much more unpopular document. Real battles needs to be had if this problem is going to be solved. Quite frankly, I’d like to see the current document shredded, and the existing managerial and facilitation approach scrapped. There should be no ‘business as usual’ in constructing such a paper. Writing it and releasing it will take real guts; the likes of which were exhibited by this Council in introducing litter fines and public space protection orders.”
Jeopardising Funds & Job Opportunities Needed To Tackle Rough Sleeping Properly
Not tackling street drinking head-on has clearly been bad for everyone. A loving approach to a person in need is not to allow them to sit on the street and drink themselves to death, nobody benefits from that. This approach damages the retail and tourist industries which provide many of the funds and job opportunities that are required to tackle rough sleeping properly.
Cruel To Those Who Need Love, Help & Guidance
The same goes for allowing tents on busy streets, any street for that matter. The existing situation in Brighton and Hove is an avoidable national embarrassment, and it is incredibly cruel towards those who need love, help, and guidance.
Not speaking out strongly against middle-class drug users ultimately brings the drug dealers here; this is a huge mistake as we have seen at The Level, in Brighton. Middle-class support for drugs is killing our most vulnerable. Middle-class drug facilitators needs to be told this; a subject that was approached by Metropolitan police Commissioner Cressida Dick last month.
More Guts Required
Not tackling head-on the funding of drug dealers, through the very selfish act of giving large amounts of cash to beggars is a tragedy. More guts are required is to say this, it’s in the report in small letters.
(Click link for report.)
In his closing remarks to the Committee on this agenda item, Cllr Robert Nemeth said “Donations should go to grassroots charities. People donating who claim to care must do more. Concentrating hostels and services in the city centre is potentially a huge driver of the circle of deprivation. And I say this very much with the success stories of George Williams House and Emmaus in Portslade in mind. A rethink is required. If we truly care about the people sleeping on our streets, at most high risk of violence, and often lost to drink and drugs, it’s time for tough love not warm words.“