THE CONSERVATIVES have put tackling homelessness in Coventry at the ‘top of their agenda’ and have created a new shadow cabinet position to deal with the issue.
Following this month’s local elections the Tories have created a shadow cabinet portfolio bringing together public health, housing, homelessness and sport.
The new position will be occupied by councillor Marcus Lapsa who has worked tirelessly for charities helping the homeless.
This includes his role with Langar Aid charity where he’s helped to feed the homeless.
He’s also slept rough to raise funds for St Basil’s, a charity which helps homeless young people.
After the introduction of the Homelessness Reduction Act, councils now have a legal duty to assist all eligible homeless citizens.
A report to councillors earlier this year said there could be as many as 638 people classified as homeless in the city and put the cost to council at around £4million.
In the first three quarters of 2017/18 a breakdown in family relations (31 per cent) was cited as the most common cause of homelessness. This was followed by the ending of an assured tenancy (27 per cent) and domestic violence (12 per cent).
Usually shadow cabinet member portfolios mirror those of the controlling group.
However councillor Gary Ridley, the leader of the Conservative Group, is concerned by homelessness and the public health implications. So he felt there should be a portfolio which brought the two together.
Coun Ridley said: “Homelessness wrecks lives and it can also have a catastrophic impact on a person’s physical health and wellbeing. This is often aggravated by difficulties in accessing public health services which just exacerbates the problem.
“That’s why I’ve created a portfolio that brings together public health and homelessness to ensure we tackle the problem holistically.
“I know Coun Lapsa is the right person to take on this role and I’m looking forward to working with him to tackle this scourge on social justice.”
Coun Lapsa said: “I’ve been moved by the work that I’ve done for a number of charities in the fight to tackle homelessness.
“It’s made me determined to do all I can to make a difference and I’m looking forward to working with Coun Ridley to shape a policy agenda that can make a real difference.”