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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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The Pavement meets Simon Hughes, MP

May 18 2009
Readers meet with the MP for Southwark North and Bermondsey to draw his attention to move-ons The shadow leader of the House of Commons will try to host a formal meeting between rough sleepers, borough staff and representatives from the Metropolitan Police, in a bid to address the issues concerning street counts. Simon Hughes MP, parliamentary member for Southwark North and Bermondsey, pledged to hold the summit after an informal get-together with The Pavement readers in July drew his attention to the move-on policies used by many London boroughs. As well as addressing this issue, Mr Hughes said attendees of the meeting would consider other pertinent concerns, such as the services and support available to rough sleepers and official attitudes towards those without permanent homes. This initial meeting opened the lid on a much wider issue, and one that The Pavement will continue to cover - the official homeless street count. Readers compared notes on the move-on policies adopted by various London boroughs, recounting stories of street cleaners and police harassment in the lead up to official street counts. Mr Hughes candidly confessed: "I had always assumed that the Government figures were too low to be accurate". Although official statistics suggest homeless numbers are decreasing, Mr Hughes questioned whether this reflected the reality of the problem. The informal meeting also gave voice to some other regular concerns. One reader explained that some hostels only accept lodgers with composite and mixed needs, and that this can pose a problem for people with only one problem - that they are homeless. Another reader pointed out that only a handful of hostels accept lodgers with pets, a hindrance to many people who rely on dogs for companionship when on the streets. The meeting concluded with Mr Hughes proposing to draft a memorandum of readers' concerns and a promise to hold further discussions. The Pavement will continue to cover developments with the MP and the ongoing debate over street counts. See page four in this issue for the most recent news on the matter.