Kendal Court 'should be closed' - 'we are failing people'

A councillor has called on Brighton and Hove City Council to stop placing vulnerable homeless people in emergency housing where there is little or no support following the latest death at Kendal Court in Newhaven.

Tuesday, 21st December 2021, 8:08 pm
Updated Wednesday, 22nd December 2021, 10:18 am
Kendal Court in Newhaven

Independent councillor Nichole Brennan said that sending vulnerable people to Kendal Court had to end after another tenant died there this month.

Councillor Brennan that said organisations including Arch Health and Justlife had warned the council that Kendal Court was unsuitable for vulnerable people five years ago.

At a council meeting last week, Councillor Brennan said: “The place should be closed. We have a duty under the Care Act and we are failing people.”

She said that there was excellent temporary housing in Hove which provided support but was taking people from Worthing and Lancing.

She was told that – as a “spot purchase” – it would cost the council more.

Councillor Brennan called on the Green leader of the council Phélim Mac Cafferty to look into what was happening at Kendal Court and ensure the council looked more closely at who was sent there.

East Sussex County Council was considering legal action against Brighton and Hove City Council, she said, after reporting the latest death to its Health and Wellbeing Board on Tuesday 14 December.

A report by the Local Democracy Reporting Service said that the board meeting papers cited Brighton and Hove City Council telling East Sussex County Council that it was not “intentionally” placing people with complex needs in Kendal Court.

And Brighton and Hove City Council was of the opinion that it was fulfilling its statutory duties under the Care Act.

But the county council accused Brighton and Hove City Council of acting “unlawfully” by failing to assess people’s care needs properly and not accepting responsibility for people placed in Kendal Court.

The Conservative leader of East Sussex, Keith Glazier, said previously that Brighton and Hove City Council was “outsourcing people to die in somebody else’s area”.

Councillor Mac Cafferty said that he had met Councillor Glazier to discuss the problems related to Kendal Court.

He told Councillor Brennan: “We are listening on this and I completely hear you. I am really worried about this as well. I know our housing leads are much closer to the detail. We are listening to you. I share your concerns.”

Green councillor David Gibson, who co-chairs Brighton and Hove City Council’s Housing Committee, said that the council needed to look at the situation with a “critical eye”.

He said: “We don’t want to do a knee-jerk reaction because of a few media headlines.

“The sad truth is that people die in quite a few of the emergency accommodation. Emergency accommodation is not a great solution for people.”

Following a Healthwatch report about Kendal Court after a series of deaths in 2018, Councillor Gibson said that welfare officers had been employed and tenants now had a laundry.

He was trying to negotiate bus travel to help people return to Brighton to access services and visit family and friends.