@BBCSpotlight Evening News

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05 December 2015

Justin Leigh [JL]: 

Welcome to Spotlight. Tonight a controversial plan to turn a former shop into a homeless shelter. Councillors meeting here have just given it the go ahead. We’ll be live in Exeter for reaction.

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[…other news headlines…]

JL: 
Within the last half an hour, a controversial plan to turn a shop in Exeter into a temporary homeless shelter has been given the go-ahead.

It’s location has caused controversy as it is so close to businesses, and the fear is that it will attract anti-social behaviour.

Rebecca Wills [RW]: 
Traders say they have already had to deal with a lot of issues in the area which they’ve attributed to members of the homeless and rough sleeping community.

In a moment we will have reaction to the decision, but first one shopkeeper – who didn’t wish to appear on camera – has been speaking to our reporter Harriet Bradshaw about what she’s been through, and why she’s objecting

[…pre-recorded package by Harriet Bradshaw…]

RW:
Well, we can go live to Harriet now, who’s outside Exeter City Council offices where the planners met this evening. Harriet…

Harriet Bradshaw [HB]: 

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Yes. Well, this evening after 40 minutes of discussion, councillors have voted unanimously in favour of this shelter.

Let’s remind you, this would mean up to 40 rough sleepers would be housed over the winter months but at the heart of this debate has always been about location. Traders I’ve spoken to have said that they are in favour of a homeless shelter, but just not in their area.

Well, with me to talk about the location is Cllr Paul Bull.

Why is it going ahead if there have been objections? And also the charity itself which is running the homeless shelter has said it is not an ideal location

Paul Bull [PB]: 

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The city centre is an ideal location. There have been suggestions that the Safe Sleep Exeter project could be housed outside the city centre area. if that happens, I believe, and so do the professionals, the rough sleepers will just stay where they are and they’ll not take up the offer of a warm and secure environment, where we can actually start to engage with them.

HB: 
Now, this all sounded a little bit last minute because the original shelter proposed location fell through, didn’t it.? Quite last minute.

PB: 
A proposed shelter did fall through. Lots of options were considered, many of those were unsuitable. Again, they were outside the city centre locations. Trying to arrange to bus people to those outlying locations was going to be difficult – it would be a challenge. So, this became the best compromise we could have at the end of the day.

HB: 
And briefly, what reassurances can you give those who are concerned about it attracting anti-social behaviour?

PB: 
Julian House tonight explained there would be at least 3 CCTV cameras provided – high-definition – to monitor anti-socail behaviour, if and when it happens – but I believe it won’t .

They are taking on-board the suggestions of Devon & Cornwall Polices’s Designing Out Crime Officer.

And actually giving residents and businesses at direct line – a hotline – so that if there are any incidences, they can be addressed and resolved.

HB: 
Thank you, Cllr Bull.

Well, the shelter could be up and running as soon as this time next week.

JL: 
Thank you, Harriet.

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