A Torbay Council spokesperson said: “Concerns have been raised regarding rough sleepers who have been occupying the Royal Terrace Gardens shelter. We have engaged with this group a number of times over recent weeks to provide welfare checks as well as supporting them to come off the street and into accommodation. As a result of this, all of the group have an appointment with the Torbay Council’s Housing Options Service, who will support them finding suitable accommodation to meet their needs.

“However, despite this engagement a large number of the group have remained in the shelter and the current situation could not be allowed to continue as this area has actually become an established encampment. Because of this an application was made to Devon County Court for a possession order, which came into force on Monday 27 March and we have also erected a hoarding around the shelter to discourage it’s use any further.

The decision to apply for an order to seek possession of the council’s land and place hoarding around the shelter was our last resort. Our officers, along with partnership workers, have been engaging with the group of rough sleepers for a number of weeks before the order was requested. All of the group were offered a Housing Options appointment and those that have taken up this offer are receiving support and will be placed in the best accommodation that meets their needs. With regard to those that continue to rough sleep, our support workers will carry on providing advice and support to them.”The welfare of the rough sleepers has been our primary concern at all times and at no point has the council or partners sought to take individual legal action to criminalise the group for their homeless situation.

“Torbay Council are committed to supporting rough sleepers with providing advice and options to come off the street and into accommodation, and following the successful bid for funding from the Departments for Communities and Local Government additional resources will be available in April for us to increase this work.”

There is also an opportunity for people to get involved in the Torbay End Street Homelessness Campaign.

News archive