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Blow for Burnham as homeless shelter closes due to electrical issues

A homeless shelter in Manchester was forced to close on Christmas Eve as a result of electrical problems, despite only being open for 3 months.

According to the Manchester Evening News, the shelter opened in November to kick off Andy Burnham’s flagship ‘Bed Every Night’ scheme, with TV crews and newspapers invited along to see the newly refurbished building.

The ‘Bed Every Night’ initiative aims to ensure that there will be a bed available every night for every single person who sleeps rough in Greater Manchester. According to the mayor’s website, over £230,000 has been donated towards the cause so far.

The shelter, which opened in Ardwick, was commissioned by Manchester council and run by housing organisation Riverside. It has now been confirmed that the shelter will close permanently as a result of the damaged electrics and it is unknown how much a fix might cost.

Meanwhile, the Liberal Democrats have claimed that Manchester Council has spent enough money on maintaining Piccadilly Garden’s water fountains to house every single person sleeping rough in Manchester. They claim that £1.2 million will have been spent on Piccadilly’s fountains in two years, which could theoretically have housed every person sleeping rough for an entire year.

Mr Burnham has placed much emphasis on homelessness during his tenure as mayor of Greater Manchester and since November, more than 700 people previously sleeping rough have reportedly been helped into accommodation as a result of the scheme.

The mayor said: “The fact that more than 700 people have been assisted into A Bed Every Night accommodation in a little over two months shows both the scale of the humanitarian crisis we face but also the effectiveness of A Bed Every Night.

”Right through Christmas and the New Year, around 200 people were in accommodation every night but, as well as providing immediate support, A Bed Every Night is acting as a springboard for people to get into more secure and long-term supported accommodation.

”While there have been some unforeseen issues with some city-centre accommodation, we are working closely with Manchester City Council to resolve these. Crucially, everyone who is supported in affected shelters has, and will always, be given alternative accommodation.’’

Manchester Liberal Democrat leader John Leech shot back, claiming: “The launch of this scheme was a pitch-perfect PR stunt; in the weeks leading up to Christmas, journalists and the media were chaperoned around the shelter in a heart-aching display of just how much homelessness has become a political football.

“Now that the media have moved on, the shelter is quietly closing its doors fewer than three months after opening.”

Tags: andy burnham, burnham, homeless, homelessness, Liberal Democrats, Manchester, Manchester city centre, manchester city council, mancunion, riverside, University of Manchester

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