‘We didn’t predict homelessness would be such an issue in Leighton Buzzard’

A homeless shelter is run from the Black Horse, North Street, Leighton Buzzard.  PHOTO: Google Street View
A homeless shelter is run from the Black Horse, North Street, Leighton Buzzard. PHOTO: Google Street View

Central Bedfordshire Council says that it has helped Leighton Buzzard’s night shelter to adopt a business plan in order to sustain its future.

The Black Horse has become the main shelter for the homeless in the town, set up by Leighton Linslade Homeless Service (LLHS) and run by volunteers.

During a meeting of Leighton Linslade Town Council’s partnership committee last week, CBC’s assistant head of housing Tony Keaveney updated councillors with the “challenges” facing the shelter.

He said: “In the context of limited housing supply, I do think the problem is going to get much worse.”

Mr Keaveney cited welfare reform and a growing lack of affordable accommodation as major contributing factors to homelessness, which CBC hadn’t predicted would become such an issue in Leighton Buzzard.

CBC has began providing support for the Black Horse and has introduced a number of health and safety measures, including halving the numbers who stay at the shelter – which was at around 18 people.

Mr Keaveney said: “There was an element in which the service was serving people from other places, like Milton Keynes in particular.

“Very often, they are people who’ve got into problems or difficulties like rent arrears and behavioural difficulties.”

CBC has also re-acquired Kilgour Court which shall be used as a supported living scheme to move people on from the Black Horse, and thereafter help them find private accommodation.

Several councillors highlighted the importance of the shelter, although Mr Keaveney disagreed with one claim it had been let down. It was agreed to follow-up the discussion at a future meeting.