A TRADERS’ leader has welcomed action from city council landlords after staff boarded up a shop doorway used as a place of shelter by rough sleepers.

Last month the Oxford Mail highlighted the former Solutions store in George Street after it became a dumping ground for homeless people’s possessions during the day.

After the issue was highlighted white boards have been erected at the entrance to the store and the space is no longer being used by rough sleepers.

But the entrance to the former Primark store in Queen Street is still a gathering place for the homeless.

Graham Jones, spokesman for traders’ group ROX – Backing Oxford Businesses – welcomed measures taken to smarten up the shopfront at the former Solutions store.

He said: “The key priority is ensuring the homeless have their medical needs taken care of and I know there are city council staff, and staff from other agencies, working together on this.

“But it is right that these boards have been put up at the Solutions store, otherwise it creates a very bad impression of the city centre for visitors.

“This is an issue that needs careful handling and I know the city council is liaising with landlords where there is still a problem.”

Mr Jones added that it was possible the building featuring the former Solutions store could be demolished and rebuilt with an extra storey.

A statement issued by ROX last month said Oxford had a ‘huge challenge’ to find ways to resolve the problem of rough sleepers in the city centre.

It added: “There are many homeless and health agencies involved in trying to find accommodation and appropriate support.

“However, the current state of affairs is unacceptable, with businesses daily having to clear up doorways of detritus before they can open their premises.”

Laurie-Jane Taylor, the city council’s city centre manager, said earlier that the former Solutions building would be boarded up as part of preparations for a major revamp.

She added that council staff have been ‘talking to the individuals using the entrances to this building as well as others on Queen Street to find ways of assisting them’

City council spokesman Tom Jennings said the former Solutions building was boarded up to prepare for its redevelopment. He added that the homeless who were using the doorway have all been referred to the relevant agencies.

Mr Jennings said: “The city council provides £1.8m of grants to support Oxford’s homelessness charities, has committed £1.5m to build a new homelessness shelter in Cowley, has secured £790,000 of Government funding to help single adults under the age of 35 and households at risk of homelessness, and has allocated £20m to buy homes for otherwise homeless Oxford families. In 2016/17, alongside partners, we prevented 1,107 households from becoming homeless.”

The landowner of the former Primark store has not been in touch with the council, Mr Jennings added.