Two days ago, NHS Property Services served legal papers on 'persons unknown' at the Saving People Shelter Project in Eccles, hoping to get possession of its property on Liverpool Road where up to 15 homeless people are currently residing.
The Shelter, which has been up and running since November, has helped people into training, jobs and some into housing, working with organisations including the Broughton Trust, Salford rough sleepers' team and the Salford Unemployed and Community Resource Centre (SUCRC).
This morning at Manchester Civil Justice Centre, the judge adjourned the hearing for eight days so that the residents can prepare a proper legal case.
Alec McFadden, manager at SUCRC, had argued that the property had been vacant for over nine years, that the residents had no houses at the moment to live in and that Greater Manchester Mayor, Andy Burnham, was sympathetic to their case. He also argued that the residents had no proper legal representation to fight the case and asked for it to be adjourned until 31st March.
The legal team representing NHS Property Services had argued against any deferment, arguing that homelessness was not a legal defence, that the fire service had deemed the building 'unsafe' and that, in any case, 'moral concerns' had been addressed.
The judge stated that the defendants had little notice of the legal action, with little time to prepare a defence, and adjourned the case for eight days, encouraging them "to engage with any processes, whether instigated by the claimant or not, to re-house the homeless".
Afterwards, Alec McFadden told the Salford Star; "The judge was sympathetic that we hadn't had time to prepare our case and has given us a further eight days to prepare. Given the strength of our position we now know that Andy Burnham is sympathetic to us, as is the Church and the Salvation Army. We are now searching urgently for a barrister to represent us."
For a full background see previous Salford Star article – click here