Sutton councillors back plans to convert Oakleigh Care home into homeless shelter

Paul Nathan opposed the plans

Paul Nathan opposed the plans

First published in News Sutton Guardian: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter

A controversial plan to convert a care home into accommodation for homeless families has been approved amid claims the council has emotionally blackmailed neighbours.

Oakleigh Care Home in Benhill Avenue looks set to become a temporary shelter for up to 45 homeless families after Sutton Council's strategy and resources committee gave the scheme the green light on Monday evening.

Neighbours in the Benhill Estate hit out at the plan because it will bring noise and undesirables to the area but people made homeless and forced to move to temporary accommodation outside the borough say this could stop families being ripped apart.

The public area was packed as councillors discussed the plans and watched a video featuring interviews with families who have been made homeless and been moved out of the borough.

They also heard a speech from Paul Nathan, former secretary of the Benhill Residents Association, who organised a petition against the plan and said it would lead to problems.

Liberal Democrats on the committee voted in favour of the plan while the Conservatives did not vote on the grounds they had not been given sufficient information on the project's background.

Conservative Councillors Tim Crowley and Graham Witham said the film amounted to emotional blackmail and accused the Liberal Democrats of bullying tactics.

The film featured Lisa Taffurelli who lived with her children in rented accommodation in Sutton until her landlord decided to sell the property and she was evicted.

She could rent another property so the council rehomed her in New Addington meaning it takes her an hour to take her children to school in the morning. She said: "The preconceptions about homeless people are wrong. Being homeless could happen to anyone - I never expected it to happen to me."

Another mum featured in the film who asked not to be named owned a house but became homeless after her husband of 25 years lost his job and she became ill. She said: "We're living in Feltham but it's too far for my son to get to school every day in Sutton so he's living with his grandparents there - it's ripped my family apart."

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