A business leader has dismissed the idea that the new John Lewis store may increase rough sleepers on Cheltenham high street.
As with many town centres and cities, rough sleepers on Cheltenham High Street are far from a rare sight.
The department store will bring in tens of thousands of John Lewis lovers – but the rise of people visiting the High Street may encourage rough sleepers to go where the crowds are.
This has been the case in Birmingham. Birmingham’s cabinet member for housing Peter Griffiths said: “Increasing numbers of rough sleepers are becoming evident, partly because of the improvements in the city…”
Previous Town Centre manager and Director at Cheltenham Business Improvement District (BID) Kevan Blackadder didn’t necessarily feel this will an issue for Cheltenham
“I don’t really see why it should. Every town centre the size of Cheltenham has got an issue around rough sleeping something that the BID, the council, the police, and other groups work together on to try and help.”
Mr Blackadder has acknowledged that in the earlier stages of the store being opened it may be a possibility.
He also explained what the BID is aiming to achieve to help deal with homelessness in Cheltenham.
“The BID (Business Improvement District) is looking at a project which is some way off around contactless donation points, to encourage people to give to the right sort of charities for the homeless – rather than to the individuals. I think there’s a real danger that if you give to individuals you never really know how the money is going to be spent. We’d like a more general approach, so the people who really want the help can get it .”
In a statement earlier this year Alex Chalk said: “Actual homelessness is completely unacceptable in a decent society. In Cheltenham the last survey reported eleven rough sleepers. Each one is a human tragedy, a living rebuke to us to do more.”