A CITY councillor said it was a ‘shame’ that a new centre for rough sleepers has been 'delayed' until January.

Oxford City Council is working to transform the former job centre in Floyds Row, off St Aldate’s, into an assessment hub and shelter for up to 60 people experiencing homelessness or at risk of rough sleeping.

But the aim of opening the shelter before the end of the year has not been achieved and it will not be launched until the new year.

Oxford Mail:

Last week council leaders increased the project’s capital budget to £1.9m.

Liberal Democrat councillor Liz Wade said: “I do think this is a shame because a lot of these people can’t afford another winter out on the streets.

“The council did say it hoped to open Floyds Row by the end of October but the opening will be delayed so that’s disappointing.

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“The council is working hard to address this issue and I’m very impressed with Matilda House the new shelter in Rymers Lane - but we do face patchwork provision this winter - Floyds Row was supposed to be a flagship scheme.”

A city council spokesman said it was the ‘initial hope’ to open Floyd’s Row this month but it has not been possible to achieve this aim.

He added: “As with so many renovation projects of old buildings – particularly when converting them into residential use – far more extensive building works were needed than expected.

“We’ve also upgraded the service specification having consulted with people experiencing homelessness and local homelessness service providers.”

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The news about the Floyds Row delay came as national homelessness statistics were revealed.

Office of National Statistics figures showed an estimated 37 homeless people died in Oxford between 2013 and 2018. There were four deaths in the area last year, according to the figures.

In Oxford, the mortality rate for homeless people is 33.6 deaths per million population – significantly higher than across England and Wales, where the rate is 16.7.

Oxford Mail:

Cabinet member for housing Linda Smith said: “The national homelessness crisis is all too obvious in Oxford and we take homelessness prevention very seriously.

READ AGAIN: Matilda House shelter opens in Cowley for rough sleepers "Any death of someone experiencing homelessness on our streets or in supported accommodation is a death too many.

"This year we’ve committed £6m to prevent and reduce homelessness in Oxford.

"This includes providing more than 200 beds for people experiencing rough sleeping and we’re transforming the way we provide services.”

Oxford Mail:

From October 21 a new assessment service and 12 beds will open at Simon House, with the winter-long emergency shelter also opening there a few weeks later.

These are expected to transfer to Floyds Row around New Year, along with services currently provided at the multi-agency hub in Bonn Square.