18 December 2018 - Essex Council leaders' letter highlights concerns over London homeless being placed in county

A letter signed by every Essex council leader highlighting concerns about families being re-housed from London into the county has been sent to senior politicians in the capital.

Agreed by the Essex Leaders and Chief Executives Group, the letter raises 11 issues which have been highlighted by housing officers across the county.

Issues include a lack of communication between London authorities and Essex councils informing them of people being moved into the area, families being placed in inadequate housing, and the impact on local services.

It also warns of cases where families have been moved far away from support networks such as friends, family and jobs, meaning their situation can actually worsen.

The Essex Leaders and Chief Executives Group includes all 12 district and borough councils, Essex County Council, Southend and Thurrock unitary authorities and the Police, Fire and Crime Commissioner.

The letter, which has been sent to the Mayor of London and the leaders and directly elected mayors of each of the London Boroughs, also details some positive steps to resolve the concerns raised and also invites politicians on both sides of the county divide to work together to lobby government on related national issues.

Cllr Andrew Baggott, Leader of Basildon Council, said: "Basildon is a great place to live, work and visit and we are certainly not saying we don't want people to choose our borough as a place to settle down. However, this has to be done in the right way. It is not right for London Boroughs to send their tenants here without talking to us.

"This is not only detrimental to those who are being sent here but to our housing teams who are working hard to house Basildon tenants.

"Safeguarding concerns also need to be considered as the safety of our residents must always come first."

Neil Stock OBE, Leader of Tendring District Council and chairman of the Essex Leaders and Chief Executives Group, said the actions of some of the London Boroughs had been despicable.

He said: "We understand why people want to come to Essex, which is a fantastic place in which to live, work and visit, and we don't want to stop people moving to the county.

"However, this needs to be in the right way and because people want to move here, not because they are being forced to or financially encouraged to by their London council as way of removing a problem.

"So far efforts by individual Essex councils to draw this to the attention of London Boroughs and the Mayor of London have largely been ignored, which is why as a group of leaders we have taken the decision to send this letter.

"We now hope that those in power in London sit up and take notice, and work constructively with us to resolve these issues."