Council to provide roadside residents extra support in seeking housing solutions

Mendip District Council is to appoint a full-time, specialist housing advisor to work directly with roadside communities to support suitable accommodation solutions.

The aim of the government-funded role is to build relationships with roadside dwellers, enable honest conversations and explore realistic housing options.

In addition to the housing advisor post 'on the ground', a part-time officer will be employed to provide strategic input and support local partnership working. They will act as a single point of reference and report back to the District Council on progress, co-ordinating with wider district projects where needed.

The new appointments are in response to research observed by Smart Communities Limited (SCL) who engaged with residents living on the roadside in Glastonbury to gain more detailed information regarding the causes and their circumstances. Mendip commissioned this piece of work during late 2019/early 2020 when numbers in the town stood at 82. By August 2020 that figure had increased to 112.

The Council knew people lived on the roadside for a number of different reasons but wanted to better understand the attraction of Glastonbury as a destination, and why there had been an increase in numbers in recent years. Many living on roadsides had no local connection to the town and would require support to reconnect back to their home areas. The Council also wanted to understand what support or accommodation roadside dwellers may like to access, as an alternative to living on the roadside.

The research highlighted that key to progress would be a clear and joint approach on enforcement, and the development of greater dialogue to build understanding between communities. The District Council is working with partners to progress these matters as a number of agencies have responsibilities to roadside communities, including the District Council for housing and Somerset County Council for enforcement on the Highways - the majority of van dwellers occupy County Council-owned land and roads. Glastonbury Town Council, Avon and Somerset Police and Mendip One Team (a multi-agency forum composed of statutory agencies who share information and work together on specific concerns around vulnerable families and individuals) are also important partners in this work and have voiced support for action.

Cllr Richard Pinnock, Portfolio Holder for Housing Services at Mendip District Council, said: "We've made a good start with the two new housing appointments. Along with the other activities with partners it's a considered response to a district-wide, multi-agency matter, but we will need to work together to find effective, realistic solutions."

Where to get help:

  • Are you, or someone you know, at risk of homelessness? Local services and support are available. Call 0300 303 8588 or make a homeless application online www.mendip.gov.uk/housing
  • Perhaps you're rough sleeping, or concerned that someone is rough sleeping in Mendip? You can make a referral to StreetLink either online or by contacting the rough sleeper referral line on 0300 500 0914. Visit www.streetlink.org.uk.
  • Find advice for tenants and landlords here: www.mendip.gov.uk/housing
  • Have you got accommodation empty and ready to let? Call 0300 303 8588. Our residents need homes.