As darkness fell across the Civic Offices car park and councillors scuttled from their cars to another meeting Amanda Denton drew her duvet closer to her and vowed:
“I’m going to be here as long as it takes.”
Amanda, a 38 year old lorry driver and her 18 year-old-daughter – an Eastleigh college student – have been living rough in the council office car park for a week a now, sleeping in their cramped two door R –Reg coupe along with their two dogs Ruby and Missy.
They were evicted from their rented accommodation after Amanda – a former council street scene employee – lost her job and were told by the council the only way they could get temporary accommodation was if they ‘got rid’ of the family pets .
“The council told me I’m not an urgent priority and I should put my dogs in a kennel, my cats in a cattery and all my furniture in storage. I simply can’t afford to do that”
So far friends and family have helped to home the cats and store the furniture but although the council found them B&B accommodation in Totton, the landlord would not tolerate having the dogs anywhere on the property which has led the family to take up residence in the council car park to highlight their plight.
“The only accommodation available is private rented and they cherry pick, they don’t want pets or families or DSS.”
“Eastleigh council sent us to Totton because they claimed there was no B&B accommodation available in the borough and we should look elsewhere – but why should I? My employer is in Fair Oak and my daughter goes to Eastleigh College.”
Amanda’s daughter does not want to be named for fear of the stigma it may bring her – her fellow students do not know she is a rough sleeper.
She also says she fears she may fail her exams due to the stress she is under.
In an email distributed to councillors and staff this morning, entitled ‘New car park resident’, Tony Hall the head of Housing and Environmental Health said:
“We have been aware of this mother and college age daughter for some time. We secured bed and breakfast for the family, following their undertaking to kennel their dogs. No B&B’s we have access to will accept dogs. Ms Denton stayed at the B&B for a few days, but it is believed that the dogs were either staying in the B&B, or sleeping in her car. The B&B proprietor legitimately advised that this was not acceptable, so she left the accommodation of her own volition.
We continue to work with the family, but a major stumbling point is her refusal to consider kennelling for the dogs. Therefore, we are trying to assist her in finding privately rented accommodation where she can take her dogs. Of course, if she is willing to kennel the dogs (which we can arrange), we can again secure B&B in the interim.”
“All we are asking for is the chance to get back on our feet again” said Amanda as Mother and Daughter hugged each other and settled down with their pets for another long night.