Saw this posted on another local social media site, an update from Cllr Daniel Hamilton:
ROUGH SLEEPING ON BALHAM HIGH ROAD
I am writing to you because you are one of the many residents that has recently written to Cllr Lynsey Hedges and myself regarding rough sleeping on Balham High Road.
I felt, given residents are rightly becoming frustrated at the situation, that it was important to update you on where the situation currently stands and to clear up some misconceptions that have begun to take root.
I know that a number of residents feel that the council and, by extension, us as your councillors have failed somehow in rehousing the group of rough sleepers that have set up tents and shelters outside Sainsbury's each evening. The reality, I am afraid, is that this group has proactively chosen to sleep rough.
We have been in close contact with the council's homelessness team on this issue and a specialist police officer has spoken to the group in their own language to investigate any welfare issues that may exist - and this is an issue of choice. The example of what is happening at present on Balham High Road is a common tale in many London Boroughs.
We will always remain willing to help any individual, family or group that requires emergency accommodation. The choice of this group to be on the streets tonight is not one that cannot be reversed, by their choice, tomorrow.
This takes us to the fundamental point we wish to convey in this message: we, like you, consider it unacceptable that this group is basing itself in the centre of Balham.
We have received scores of messages, which are increasing in their volume by the day, containing complaints about begging, lurid behaviour, public urination and the undue proximity of individuals to cash points. We have received a range of uncomfortable messages from male and female residents about their personal safety along the High Road in the hours of darkness, as well as early in the morning.
The presence of these tents in the centre of Balham is, to be clear, unacceptable.
We are in a difficult situation where the council's ability to act is relatively limited. While Wandsworth has a statutory duty to provide accommodation (emergency and permanent) to those that are homeless, there is a right to choose to be homeless. As such, dealing with this issue is now more an issue for the Metropolitan Police than it is for Wandsworth Borough Council.
We are not attempting - and will not - seek to wash our hands of this issue. But, as your councillors, we need to be realistic about what we can do.
Wandsworth Council has a borough-wide Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) in place to cover alcohol-related anti-social behaviour. This absolutely includes groups of individuals gathered, as in the case of those sleeping rough in Balham, in an intimidating manner in the street. We would urge you to please report any and all behaviour that makes you uncomfortable to the police non-emergency line on 101. You can send any photographs or video content to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For our part, we will continue to speak to our excellent and highly responsive Metropolitan Police team here in Balham to request the maximum possible policing visibility tonight and in subsequent nights. It is my hope that police persistence and resident vigilance will be successful in moving this group on before any other legal avenues need to be considered.
Councillors are, at the end of the day, volunteers who are here to help the community. It is exceptionally frustrating when we are not able to do so easily. Please do keep us copied on any approaches you make to the police on this issue in order that we can advocate on your behalf.
If there are any other matters we can assist you with, please do let us know.
Very best wishes,
Cllr Daniel Hamilton Conservative - Balham & Clapham South Ward