Responding to a pledge from that a Labour-run Birmingham City Council will end rough-sleeping, Ladywood Liberal Democrat Council candidates Lee Dargue and Stephen Lambert hit back, releasing data from an FOI request showing that the problem is growing, not reducing under Labour.
Lee Dargue, who works on Mental Health and Drugs campaigns said: "It's easy to sit and blame central government for a problem on your own doorstep - but Labour have consistently mismanaged money in Birmingham. Despite the pledge to end rough-sleeping, temporary accommodation spending in the City went up by £8million pounds last year. This is not acceptable. It's outrageous that despite apparently wanting to tackle the causes and issues around rough-sleeping - there is absolutely no reference to mental health or drug use. It's great to see that the PCC has called for drug use to be tackled with an approach via harm-reduction (which I support fully) but for Labour Councillors to be silent on this most urgent of needs is frankly appalling. And where is Mental Health? Labour seem to not even have it as a priority."
Stephen Lambert, who has worked with charities in the City to support rough-sleepers, said: "Labour say they want to end the use of B&Bs for temporary accommodation - but they spent £17million on B&Bs in 2017, an increase of about 50% from 2016. So where is everyone going to go? Labour pledged to support the Homelessness program from the WMCA - but so far we seem to have no money - it can't run on magic. The idea that a "Charter of rights" will be made-up to ensure cases of homelessness will be dealt with swiftly is scandalous. Stop wasting time with Charters and just deal with people properly and swiftly because it's the right thing to do. If Labour can't trust themselves to handle homelessness without a written charter, then how can anyone else in Birmingham? The scandal of rough-sleeping must end, and we can't leave it to Birmingham Labour to let it keep growing."
Jon Hunt, Leader of the Liberal Democrats on Birmingham City Council, added: "Lib Dems put forward proposals last month for the investment needed to provide temporary accommodation for those made homeless. This was rejected by Labour. This is all crocodile tears.”
Responding to news that Sunderland AFC is opening it's doors to help temporarily house homeless people Lee Dargue pleaded with Football Clubs in Birmingham and across the West Midlands:
"Sunderland AFC have started a fantastic initiative here. I plead with Football Clubs and similar venues across the West Midlands to follow their lead during this extreme weather.
"I know it would be a big undertaking, but I'm confident people across the great City of Birmingham and our community-based West Midlands region will come out to offer to volunteer to support this.
"As a start - I call upon Aston Villa and Birmingham City Football Clubs to do the same as Sunderland AFC; I and others will support any way we can.
"Let's help save lives and show what the people of Birmingham and the West Midlands value most - supporting the most vulnerable and caring for our communities."