Dumping homeless people in Newhaven was a scandal which the media helped end, says council boss

Kendal Court

Homeless people were dumped at a troubled block of flats in Newhaven and the scandal ended in part because of media exposure, a council leader said today (Friday 22 July).

James MacCleary, the Liberal Democrat leader of Lewes District Council, spoke out after Brighton and Hove City Council said that it would no longer place people in Kendal Court.

But at least ten people died after being placed in a temporary or emergency home in the block from 2016 to 2021.

The placements and deaths prompted outrage, with East Sussex County Council threatening to take legal action against Brighton and Hove.

Councillor MacCleary, who represents Newhaven and Bishopstone on East Sussex County Council, said that he hoped the flats, in Railway Road, would now be put to better use.

He said: “The scandal of Kendal Court has left a very bad taste with residents.

“I raised the alarm on this soon after I was elected as I could not believe that vulnerable people were being treated like this.

“I genuinely believe if we hadn’t brought it to the attention of local and national media, then Brighton and Hove City Council and the landowner would have happily continued dumping people there.

“The Eastside area of Newhaven is seeing a lot of change and the town is finally getting the investment it deserves.

“We will now be watching very closely to see what happens next with the site.”

At the height of the coronavirus pandemic, Brighton and Hove City Council had placed 314 households outside the area.

James MacCleary

The council said that it was working hard to reduce the number of people in emergency housing outside the area and to bring them into long-term housing in Brighton and Hove.

The council added that welfare officers were keeping in touch with residents housed outside the city and holding regular drop-in sessions.

  1. sd Reply

    Well done to everyone who shone a light on this scandal.

    As we head into a period of potentially having a multi millionaire Prime Minister, we need more people to speak up in support of our most vulnerable people.

  2. Daniel Harris Reply

    Welfare officers regularly keeping in touch. Didn’t someone die there last month? They were allegedly left for three days.

    This is what, 15 deaths now?

    We need a legal inquest now! A report will not cut it!

    • Jane L Reply

      The life expectancy of hard drug users isn’t long. These weren’t fit and healthy people.

    • jim Deans Reply

      Just from memory I would have said it was over 20 since 2016, putting someone with depression miles from support, miles from any friends then refusing to give them a travel warrant (while Coucillors travel the City free) seems like the perfect cocktail for suicide or going back to hard drugs that the services and support in Brighton & Hove had weened them off of is just to much of a coincidence, the support they are talking about was a phone call once a week, I know this for a fact as my number was used for some of the service users. It needs an enquire who set this up, what checks were made, where did the money go it all needs to be told to prevent future deaths

  3. Jonathan Simons Reply

    Labour have a hell of a lot to answer for when they setup this scheme in 2016 and the now Tory (then labour) councillor Anne Meadows who was in charge of housing at the time should resign

    • Steven B Reply

      What you have to factor in, is that BHCC are serial incompetents. The whole ethos of the council is based on laziness , ineptitude and naivete.The council is simply not fit for purpose

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      Agreed RE who was in charge, it is took a change in the director to get the reports, but the mismanagement at BHCC, The boss sidestepped to adult social care recently and will never be held accountable. The culture of denying all, admitting nothing, caring little, all the good staff have gone, the left years ago. Now you have a highly controlled and micromanaged workforce.

      Kendal court could have worked; but without the wrap around rehabilitation support, the issue was placing people with severe multiple complex needs there.

      Ignoring everyones independent reports and feedback to stop. Another death last month was a sad end to what I can only see as a serious failing somewhere, an inquiry I feel is the only way to move forward. Get some kind of good from all this.

      You wonder why people choose to sleep rough when they get offer chaotic and grim environment, all whilst the private providers live in huge mansions and have large property portfolios.

      They once tried to place me in Newhaven because I will pissing off the private providers blogging about my life living in emergency accommodation. Thats what happened to a lot, it was revenge eviction and then placed out or area. Out of sight out of mind.

    • Daniel Harris Reply

      I fear you are right. I mean I saw 4 deaths in my 9 months in emergency and that place was a whole other level.

      We need an inquiry jim!

  4. Scarag Reply

    While this particular place has been highlighted because of the appalling string of deaths, treating homeless people, and the especially vulnerable homeless people with absolute contempt is nothing new for BHCC. They’ve been placing people in places not fit for human habitation with people who are dangerous, far away from support services or informal support systems for a long time. I got my file from them and they’d marked it that I was particularly vulnerable due to disability and should be referred to social services for care assessment and get additional help from the housing team. Neither happened. They knew I was being made homeless but did nothing about securing me an accessible building. The “one or two steps” they said I’d have to manage turned out to be a whole external flight I had to crawl up. Next place I couldn’t get to the room at all. The building manager agreed, but they had it listed as accessible so that was that. They didn’t contact me with an alternative for over two weeks. Eventually I got sent to Seaford. Almost level access to room but had to walk sideways around the bed, definitely no wheelchair access. Step into the shower was so big again, I had to crawl. It was that winter it snowed loads and the heating was on half an hour a day. I literally stayed in bed all the time to try and keep warm. If you’re not vulnerable through mental health issues when you start dealing with BHCC, and especially the Housing Team, you are when you’ve been dealing with them for a bit. The whole thing should be brought out into light. Public enquiry with a wide remit covering all sites, everywhere they’ve housed people out of area as well, all their files, and go back a good long way. See if any improvement has been made at all and any of these lessons they supposedly learn actually have been.

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