Closure threat for homeless hostel in Wisbech if new deal is not secured

PUBLISHED: 14:43 25 March 2019 | UPDATED: 09:24 26 March 2019

Closure threat for homeless hostel in Wisbech if new deal is not secured. Picture: GOOGLE EARTH.

Closure threat for homeless hostel in Wisbech if new deal is not secured. Picture: GOOGLE EARTH.

Archant

A hostel for vulnerable homeless people in Wisbech is at risk of closure in seven days if a deal isn't struck with a new housing provider.

A hostel for vulnerable homeless people in Wisbech is at risk of closure in seven days if a deal isn’t struck with a new housing provider.

Tenants at Kirkgate Hostel may have to be moved elsewhere if Fenland District Council [FDC] and Luminus Housing don’t secure a new lease this week.

It comes as the original lease with Genesis has come to the end of its 10-year contract as the company announced they are moving out of Fenland.

Bosses are currently “holding talks” to make sure arrangements are in place for Luminus to take on the lease, with management provided by The Ferry Project, also based in Wisbech.

It would mean the centre would be able to continue running as it is, offering support for up to nine people.

The centre would be refurbished from April 1 while the current six tenants are moved to short-term or other hostel accommodation.

A decision to approve Luminus’ bid to take over the running of the hostel was approved by FDC earlier this month.

It was explained how the previous tenant had undertook two procurement exercises to find another provider, but following “no interest on both occasions” it left “a risk that residents would become homeless”.

In a report issued by the council on March 14, it says: “The closure of the hostel would result in potentially significant cost increases to FDC as a consequence of having to identity and negotiate alternative temporary accommodation elsewhere.

“It is recommended that a new ten year lease be completed with Luminus Housing

“We currently await board approval from Luminus to taking on the lease but due to the imminent departure of the existing tenant it is proposed that Luminus be allowed entry to take over service provision from April 1 2019.

“If this does not occur either the existing tenants will have to move out and the hostel be closed with FDC stepping in to address the homeless risks in accordance with our statutory duties.”

An alternative option of FDC running the hostel was also suggested, but they did not have “the resources or ability” to provide support.

The hostel currently accepts referrals from the youth offender’s scheme, mental health teams, young people’s service and drug and alcohol services.

Staff help tenants with budgeting, work, leisure, education and training.

A Fenland District Council spokesman said: “We are currently exploring options for the Kirkgate Street hostel with Luminus and The Ferry Project, ready for when the existing lease expires on March 31. Our priority is to ensure continuity for existing residents and homelessness provision in the town.”

The existing lease of the premises was granted in April 2009, with a live-in supervisor, as accommodation for single and vulnerable homeless people.

A Notting Hill Genesis spokesperson said: “As part of our programme to reduce the footprint of our organisation, we have ended our contract to manage the Kirkgate Street hostel. We have been working closely with the council and new provider to ensure a high level of service is maintained throughout the transition period until the contract ends on April 1.

“We had previously managed 30 Princes Walk in March, but this was transferred to Futures Housing Group in 2018.”

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