A COUNCILLOR has described the deaths of homeless people as a 'tragedy' following the news that nine people have died in the borough in the last six years. 

This week the Gazette reported how nine people who did not have permanent living arrangements have passed away since 2013, with three deaths occurring in the last year alone.  

Cllr Tristan Robinson, on behalf of Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council, described the news as a 'tragedy' but disputed the figure.

He said the council has a different definition of 'homeless'.

He said the council only classifies people who are living on the streets to be homeless.

According to council figures, he said just one person has died.

However official figures from the Office for National Statistics show the number to be nine.

The ONS counted anyone with no fixed abode at the time of their death, including rough sleepers and people living in night shelters or homeless hostels.

Cllr Robinson said: “The death of any homeless person in our community is a tragedy and over the past six years our records show one person has sadly passed away on the streets.

"The report classes those people in supported accommodation, that is safe, secure and provides access to health care and wellbeing services, at the time of their death as homeless. Basingstoke and Deane Borough Council works hard with partners in the Social Inclusion Partnership including May Place, the Camrose Centre, Julian House and the CCG to tackle homelessness and improve health inequalities and access to services.

"There is a tremendous amount of work that takes place by agencies and volunteers and as a borough we have reduced the number of people sleeping on our streets by 69% from 26 in 2016, to 15 in 2017 to eight in 2018.

“Many people assume tackling homelessness is just about putting a roof over a person’s head, sadly it is not, the people our outreach teams, homelessness officers and volunteers are working with have complex needs.

He said: "Through partnership working, successful funding applications and innovative thinking, the Social Inclusion Partnership has put in place measures to help including providing GP drop-ins at the Camrose Centre and winter night shelter, facilitated clinical psychologists working alongside support services for people experiencing homelessness and successfully bid for three rounds of funding from the government to strengthen the services on offer for those needing support.”