Rough sleepers are ‘blocking fire doors’ at Kenneth More Theatre in Ilford
- Credit: Paul Canal
An opposition councillor has accused Redbridge Council of abandoning a popular theatre, as several rough sleepers have begun living around the back.
Conservative leader Cllr Paul Canal accused the council of failing to act over “abusive” rough sleepers who sleep outside the fire doors at the Kenneth More Theatre.
“This raises a number of challenges,” he said.
“First and foremost is the health of the rough sleepers themselves. There is also the real issue of safety as they block the fire doors.”
He explained they are “urinating and defecating” in the doorways and are “occasionally abusive to staff” who seek to move them on.
The building, in Oakfield Road, Ilford, is rented out to the theatre at a peppercorn rent by the council, which acts as landlord.
Cllr Canal said: “It is becoming increasingly clear that Redbridge Council is abandoning the KMT.”
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Kenneth More Theatre (KMT) general manager Steven Day said he is often finding urine and faeces outside the theatre.
He said: “I understand the issues with rough sleepers and homelessness in the borough and I do feel sorry for them and the situations they are in, but I do think that they should be moved on.
“We have many visiting companies to the KMT on a weekly basis and on arrival they are greeted by this.
“It does not look good on us or the borough.
“I know that these people have been offered help and assistance and some do not want help – something does need to be done to improve this boroughwide issue.
“I know that if these homeless persons were using the town hall doorway’s something would be done immediately. “
A council spokesman said: “We have been working to support the rough sleepers.
“Most have no recourse to public funds so we are restricted in terms of the support we can offer directly.
“A plan is in place to set this location as a rough sleeping hotspot and to provide continued support to the rough sleepers, working with our third sector partners.
“Our outreach team will continue to provide support over the next few weeks, and following this, enforcement notices will be posted and the site will be cleared.”
“In respect of the potential to relocate the doors to the theatre, while the council is the freeholder of the KMT building, it is occupied by the trustees under a lease.
“Under the terms of the lease, the responsibility for any adaptations such as that proposed would fall to the trustees to bring forward and not the council.”