Statement and information about Hamilton House
Hamilton House media statement - 10 October
The council has been clear from day one that the upper floors of Hamilton House are not safe for people to live in. Our primary concern has always been the welfare of the group inside and we have taken great care to mitigate the potential impact on their health and personal safety that might result from their occupation of the building. This has included building maintenance checks, fire safety advice, sanitation improvements and medical support for health conditions.
Throughout the week we have explained to the trespassers that they do not have a legal right to be in there and, after the Interim Possession Order (IPO) was issued, have been much clearer about this with people trying to enter the building. This is now a criminal, not a civil, matter and police officers have explained this to some of the people occupying the building.
Additionally, for the past ten days we have consistently invited people to come down to the ground floor homeless hub and speak with housing officers about their needs. Today we are also offering a special housing meeting at the St Mary’s Centre in Chester. There will be housing officers available from 1:30pm to 5:30pm to discuss immediate housing needs and options for safe places to stay.
We accept that this is a very difficult situation for the group in the building, the local community, and our partners in the public, voluntary and faith sectors. The past 10 days have seen the Council take a balanced approach to managing this situation. We have listened to voices in the community and have adjusted views accordingly. The legal aspects have now changed, however, and the occupation of the building is a criminal act that must be brought to an end so the building can be secured.
At 5:05pm people entering the building will be stopped and any public order offences will be dealt with by the police. Following that the building will be secured and we will be removing the welfare area.
The council has issued a letter explaining the situation to the people inside the building and to notify them about the special housing services available at the St Mary’s Centre today.
The letter said:
Moving on from Hamilton House
As you will know the Interim Possession Order (IPO) was served at 5:05pm on Wednesday 9th October 2019. This means it is really important you leave the upper floors of Hamilton House with all of your belongings by 5:05pm today. Failure to do this means you might be arrested.
If you leave the building and try to re-enter it will be an offence.
We do not want you to be arrested - we want to offer you support. We want you to have somewhere safe to stay when you leave the upper floors of Hamilton House. To help you move on we have staff waiting to see you today from 1:30pm until 5.30pm at the St Mary’s Centre on St Mary’s Hill. There are housing officers waiting to talk to you about your needs and the options available for you.
We hope to see you soon.
On behalf of:
Cheshire West and Chester Council and our partners