Questions over homeless pods in Newport

Newport City Council say they want more assurances that newly erected pods for homeless people meet safety regulations.

Charity Amazing Grace Spaces have put up two pods designed to serve as emergency and temporary accommodation for rough sleepers in a city centre car park on private land.
Each unit provides a bed, chemical toilet and a solar powered light.
The charity say their aim is to provide innovative, lost-cost housing for the homeless.

Inside one of the pods

Newport City Council say they’ve been working with the charity and a housing association to find a safe and secure location for the pods. 
“It is […] important that this accommodation is appropriately located and properly managed both for the well-being of the users and for people living and working nearby,” the council add in a statement.
“We were also seeking assurances that the pods met all the necessary safety regulations but, to date, this has not been provided. We had not been informed of the intention to site them in this car park,” the statement continues.
But Lester Freckleton, from Amazing Grace Spaces, said: “Newport City Council has not spoken to us about giving them those assurances.
“For instance the materials, manufacturing process and the usage has been covered by our insurance company, so our pods are insured for public liability and they are safe.”
Lester Freckleton says the pods ‘are not a publicity stunt’

Mr Freckleton said the charity went ahead with the plans because they wanted to help people quickly.
He added: “We are going through the cold spell now. We could sit back and wait for another meeting with the council but then [the weather] starts warming up and we would have to go through the whole cycle again.
“While people are out in the cold, we just thought we need to do something about this. It’s not a publicity stunt – we just said let’s help some people.”
The council, in partnership with Amazing Grace Spaces, submitted a funding application to the Welsh Government for the pods last year. The bid was not approved.
A spokesperson for the Welsh Government says it “will continue to work with Newport City Council and other partners to prioritise the most effective appropriate projects to support people to move off the street and into longer term housing solutions.”
Amazing Grace Spaces say they’re aiming to provide more pods in Newport within a month. In the longer term they want to install 10 larger shipping containers to help house the homeless.
The charity says it would like to continue to work alongside authorities to find solutions to rough sleeping.