I wanted to inform you of a homeless man and his dog who have taken residence in the Newton Aycliffe Youth Centre garden. They have been there several weeks now.

They got in through an unlocked gate and the authorities have been and unable to move him on!

There is dog mess and rubbish in this garden now, this is a place where a kids club should be able to use it and a youth club. There are also many kids clubs held in the centre and this issue seems to be ignored by the authorities.

Surely it is an issue which needs dealing with? This homeless man is wandering around trying to use their facilities, which kids are using. Volunteers at the centre must be at their wit’s end. Surely someone can intervene?

Name and address supplied

Newton Aycliffe Youth & Community Centre response:

This is indeed a matter of great concern to the Youth and Community Centre. The gentleman’s presence is damaging our business, because the small garden is part of our offer. Much worse, however, is the fact that it creates a considerable safeguarding issue for our customers.

We understand that the gentleman has been offered a number of homes, but chooses to live in a tent. We have appealed to him to move and he promises to do so shortly, but then does not. The Police also, have asked him to move a number of times, but have been ignored. The matter is exacerbated by the fact that the gentleman’s dog is becoming increasingly defensive of what it clearly regards as ‘its’ garden, yet he often leaves it there alone during the day.

We are taking advice from Durham County Council, which is the landowner, but fear the cost and length of a civil process. We very much want the issue to resolve itself quietly and without fuss or rancour.