New powers allow council officers to remove rough sleepers' abandoned belongings

A person sleeping on the street.
A person sleeping on the street.

New powers given to Arun District Council will allow officers to remove the abandoned belongings of rough sleepers.

A Facebook post shared by concerned residents questions the purpose of the order which gives Arun District Council the power to remove abandoned items on parts of land in the town centre.

The order was granted by West Sussex County Council on Thursday (April 11) and allows the group head of well being, the community manager, and the senior anti-social behaviour caseworker to exercise the powers until March 31 2020 or until the county council revokes them.

A spokesman for Arun District Council said: "A decision was made at last week’s cabinet meeting to allow Arun District Council to manage specific areas of land on behalf of West Sussex County Council [WSCC].

"This gives Arun District Council the authority to remove any abandoned items left on Highway land in the town centre of Bognor Regis.

"When items are identified as being left, council officers will make reasonable enquiries as to whether they have been abandoned and will seek to give as much advance notice prior to removal. Once an officer is satisfied that items are abandoned, they will be removed and held in secure storage for a period of one month."

Given reasons for the decision were that ADC officers would be able to 'act in a timely and coordinated' way when dealing with rough sleeping or people storing belongings in the town centre, in the London Road precinct, Bedford Street, London Road, and the High Street.

The spokesman continued: "Possessions can be reclaimed by the owner within this period by contacting Arun District Council. These actions are part of a broader, partnership approach to address rough sleeping in the local area and provide regular support for people who find themselves homeless.

"The Homeless Outreach Keyworker regularly signposts individuals into services and provides specialist housing support, and assists individuals with accessing other services, including securing alternative accommodation, GP services and benefits advice.

"Stonepillow provides day centre facilities in Bognor Regis at Glenlogie House where anyone can access a hot meal wash their clothes and seek advice."