A CITY councillor has called for rough sleepers to be given greater support during the winter months when temperatures can drop below freezing.

According to the city council’s severe weather emergency protocol (SWEP) extras winter beds are available on every night the Met Office forecasts a sub-zero overnight temperature.

SWEP beds were opened from Friday until Monday morning as temperatures dropped.

But Liz Wade, Liberal Democrat councillor for Wolvercote, said rough sleepers should be helped even further.

Oxford Mail:

She made the call after seeing homeless people huddling under a concrete overhang in Little Clarendon Street.

READ AGAIN: £150,000 Christmas Match Fund target to help rough sleepers

She said: “It was bitterly cold and their sleeping bags were quite inadequate.

“SWEP does not kick in until a temperature of zero degrees is officially forecast.

“The bar at which SWEP kicks in should be lowered to a forecast of four degrees – this is still just the temperature in your fridge.

Oxford Mail:

"Seven hundred people died on the streets of Britain last year, but this is only the extreme end of a spectrum of misery.

"We are a rich city – and should be generous enough to give a bed for the night to anyone who needs it.”

Ms Wade’s call is being backed by fellow Liberal Democrat councillors Paul Harris and Stefanie Garden.

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Rough sleeping in the city has increased in recent years and the city council has been spending millions of pounds trying to combat the problem.

A new shelter will open in Floyds Row off St Aldates in the new year.

Matilda House, a £3.7m shelter in Rymers Lane, Cowley, opened in September.

A Christmas Match Fund launched by Oxford Homeless Movement aims to raise £150,000 for the homeless.

It is being supported by Oxfordshire Community Foundation and is backed by the Oxford Mail.

Visit Oxford Homeless Movement to donate to the match fund.