CONCERN is growing after it emerged that a homeless charity has been effectively barred from setting up a hub in the town centre.

At a meeting of Slough Borough Council last Tuesday several members expressed reservations over an agreement the authority had made with SHOC (Slough Homeless Our Concern), stopping it from having a shelter in the centre.

Cllr Dexter Smith (Con, Colnbrook and Poyle) called for more action by the council to find a home for SHOC. And Tory leader Cllr Wayne Strutton (Haymill and Lynch Hill) said: “Across the town there is a real problem with homelessness that we need to address.

“However, it appears that when SHOC moved from their last premises, there was a clause within the agreement that prevents them delivering help within the town centre area. I’m quite disturbed that we would put such a clause within the contract.”

Cllr Diana Coad (Ind, Langley St Mary) said: “To know that they (SHOC) are excluded from the town centre is quite shocking.” The council gave SHOC half a million pounds in return for moving out of its former premises in Burlington Avenue, following complaints of anti-social behaviour. But in return the charity was barred from relocating anywhere within the area bounded by the Tuns Lane junction and the Sainsbury’s roundabout. It found temporary cramped premises in Whitby Road but must move in April so the owners can redevelop. Last week the council refused to let the charity move into the old changing rooms it owns in Upton Park.

But council leader, Cllr James Swindlehurst, insisted this did not mean the authority would not help. He said: “We’re doing a full property search to help find a home for SHOC, and we’re also trying to see if they can stay longer in their current site.”

SHOC chief Steve Hedley said he understood the council could only do so much.

But he said:“I firmly believe we can work together as we do in Hillingdon, but the officers at Slough council need to find their compassion and realise that if SHOC closes over 60 people sleeping out in the cold in Slough will have nowhere to go.”