A few months ago, I wrote about the trend of other local authorities across the region sending a number of homeless people from their areas to Ipswich. I had heard rumours about this for some time, but it was only a few months ago that it was finally confirmed to me.

I made clear my view at the time that I opposed this. I have significant sympathy for those who find themselves homeless but ultimately, I believe that each local authority has a moral responsibility to confront homelessness within its own local area and not to simply pass the issue on to another local authority.

Here in Ipswich, we have our own challenge with homelessness without additional pressures being placed on us by other local authorities who are not prepared to stand up to the plate themselves.

It is my understanding that a number of the individuals in question are being placed directly in Ipswich town centre. My understanding is also that the Labour run Ipswich Borough Council have not done anything to oppose this or to encourage other local authorities to stop deflecting their homelessness challenges onto the Town. Whilst I appreciate that the local authorities in question will continue to make financial contributions to cover the costs, I am certain it will not cover all the costs, wider pressures, and issues within the Town that are likely to come about as a result.

In my recent Town centre survey, I posed this question to the 26,000 Ipswich residents who received a copy of my survey.

“Recently, it came to light that a number of local authorities are sending a large number of the homeless people that they’re responsible for supporting to Ipswich Town centre. As it stands, the Labour-led council in Ipswich hasn’t opposed this. Which of the following statements would you agree with?”

The response was overwhelming. In total 90.57% of the thousands who answered, agreed with the following view: “Ipswich has its own challenge in tackling homelessness and other local authorities should step up and not pass an additional burden onto us.”

With only 4.57% agreeing with the view: “We should continue to welcome homeless people from across the region whatever the pressures or challenges it presents to our own town centre.”

The vast majority taking part in the survey will have every sympathy with those who end up being homeless. However, just think that it is wrong and unfair that other areas are passing their challenges onto us instead of actually dealing with the issues in their own areas.

We are a compassionate town with some wonderful organisations and individuals engaged with this issue and ensuring homeless people get support, but the status quo just does not seem right to me. I am surprised that the vast majority of those responding to the town centre survey agree with me on this.

The majority of those who are homeless are decent people who have simply fallen on very hard times and have often been the victim of circumstance. However, it concerns me that a significant number of additional people who are homeless are being placed in town centre accommodation which could exacerbate crime and anti-social behaviour issues.

I will be writing to Ipswich Borough Council sharing the results of my survey and I will also be writing to the Homelessness Minister in Government.

When it comes to Ipswich residents falling on tough times we should absolutely stand up and support them in every way that we can. However, we simply have not got the capacity to take on board those from other areas. All local authorities should stand up and do their bit.

Tom Hunt is Conservative MP for Ipswich