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Sunday, 31 August 2014

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‘Sleep rough’ would-be Carlisle MP votes against homeless cash

A would-be MP has voted against giving cash to a homeless charity – just weeks after sleeping rough to raise awareness of the problem.

Lee Sherriff  photo
Lee Sherriff during the 'sleep rough' event

Councillor Lee Sherriff, who represents Labour for Harraby on Carlisle City Council, voted with her party not to award £5,000 to Churches Together to support homelessness initiatives. She has defended her stance, saying the authority’s budget had set aside funds for groups and charities such as this.

But the Conservatives, who proposed the move, expressed their surprise, describing her vote as “rather strange”.

The decision not to award £5,000 to Churches Together to support homelessness initiatives was made during the city council’s budget debate this week.

Conservative members had proposed the move as one of four budget amendments that were all voted out by the Labour majority.

Miss Sherriff, Labour’s prospective parliamentary candidate at the next general election, last month took part in a well publicised “sleep rough” event in the city centre to highlight the issue of homelessness. She said: “Money to help agencies like that [Churches Together] was included in the budget – there is ongoing help there.

“We are working with those agencies. It’s not a case of not giving money to those agencies.”

Miss Sherriff said her party had worked with the Trades Union Congress (TUC) to organise a poverty conference next month.

She added: “Changes to welfare are going to cause problems. It is not being ignored – it is there.”

John Mallinson, the leader of the Conservative group on Carlisle City Council, said he was surprised by the way Miss Sherriff had voted.

He added: “I did think it was rather strange given that she’s been very proactive in highlighting homelessness in the city by sleeping out for one night.”

Mr Mallinson said that two £5,000 grants, to Churches Together and Carlisle and District Credit Union, were originally suggested as an amendment to last year’s budget by Labour when it was in opposition.

He added: “We made it the same as last year – we thought it would be easier for the Labour administration to accept it.”

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