HL Deb 17 November 2003 vol 654 c246WA
Lord Patten

asked Her Majesty's Government:

Whether the rough sleeping that occurs nightly in the Piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral is to be permitted indefinitely. [HL5541]

The Minister of State, Office of the Deputy Prime Minister (Lord Rooker)

The Government do not set targets to reduce rough sleeping in specific areas such as the piazza in front of Westminster Cathedral. However, the Homelessness Directorate is working with Westminster City Council to tackle disruptive behaviour in the daytime and rough sleeping on the piazza.

The number of people sleeping rough on the piazza fluctuates on a daily basis. Westminster acknowledges that rough sleeping around the piazza continues to be one of London's most visible and troublesome hotspots. Westminster has recently (October) recommissioned street outreach services via a new rapid intervention team with a view to tackling the problem. The aim is to help vulnerable people into appropriate services that will enable them to sustain accommodation, to divert others new to the area, and bring about real reductions in people using the piazza to bed down at night.