THE number of homeless people using the council's emergency winter beds has dropped in a year.

Emergency beds are free for anybody who is sleeping rough to use – but only when Oxford City Council have declared it a Severe Weather Emergency Protocol (SWEP).

SWEP is automatically activated when the Met Office forecast overnight temperatures to drop to zero degrees or below for at least three nights in a row.

Last winter emergency beds were open for 18 nights.

The busiest night was also on February 2, when 29 people visited one of the three centres for a warm place to kip.

The year before was the busiest year to date.

In 2017, during the busiest night 41 people turned up for a bed.

Oxford City Council now claim the average number of people using the service has fallen from 24 to 20.

Councillor Linda Smith who is on the board for housing was hopeful about the future of homelessness, she said: “This winter we’ll be opening up Floyds Row as an assessment hub and shelter for rough sleepers, and this will include winter-long emergency shelter available to anyone who wants to come inside.

"I hope this means we won’t need SWEP in future, as nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford.”