Bedford Borough Council is investigating the use of “sleeping pods” to provide immediate access shelter for people who would otherwise be sleeping rough, a meeting heard.
A briefing note to the Budget and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee on Thursday 2 November said these pods are not intended to be considered as a form of accommodation (temporary or otherwise) but rather as a form of emergency shelter.
Councillor Mohammed Nawaz (Labour, Kempston Central & East) asked if any sites had been identified for the pods.
Lee Phanco, chief officer for assessment, application and business support, replied that sites haven’t been found yet.
“We have been in conversation with one of the local homelessness charities around this and they put us in touch with another local authority that introduced the pods,” he said.
“They don’t need to be connected to services, but you do need a suitable surface,” he said.
“So one of the options may be to look at if we could put them in car parks.
“There are other issues around where they’re located, around health and safety issues for the people that would be using the pods.
“So we may want to put them where there is some CCTV coverage.
“Or certainly where they’re not too hidden away out of sight,” he said.
“You can actually put them inside buildings as well, the example that we saw was a charity that had a warehouse-type building and they’d actually put several of the pods inside the building.
“It does need more work on it, there are various management issues with them that will have a cost to them, so it’s about how we can manage that.
“But it’s certainly something that we think may be an option, not as temporary accommodation, but just to provide that emergency overnight shelter for somebody that might be rough sleeping,” he said.
The briefing note said the pods typically consist of a single bed plus a similar-sized floor area, a hand basin and a chemical toilet.
The electrical power is provided by a solar panel-charged battery which is suitable for charging a mobile phone and providing heating in the winter.
by John Guinn
Local Democracy Reporter