Council denies homeless neglect claim

Chris Conlin
Chris Conlin

Council bosses have responded to claims that they neglected a homeless man in the weeks before he died.

Officials have spoken out after the tragic death of Chris Conlin, the homeless man who died after collapsing in the street in Leigh town centre.

The scene in Bradshawgate where Chris Conlin fell ill

The scene in Bradshawgate where Chris Conlin fell ill

Countless messages of condolence for Chris flooded social media, but there were also accusations that housing officials had refused an application made by Chris after he was recently discharged from hospital.

But Wigan Council have today categorically denied the claims, as well as revealing some of the work it was carrying out to combat the most common issues affecting the homeless across the borough.

A council spokesman said: “We are very saddened to hear of the death of Mr Conlin and our condolences go to his family and friends.

“We have had involvement over a number of years helping him with support services and accommodation needs and he was offered accommodation on discharge from hospital last week.

“The full details of the circumstances surrounding Mr Conlin’s death will be examined at an inquest.”

On wider issues in Leigh town centre, he added: “We have been aware of concerns regarding drug and alcohol usage in Leigh town centre for some time.

“We have been proactive in working with businesses and local councillors to look at specific issues to help tackle them.

“This involves supporting local homeless charities through funding, visiting hotspots regularly and cleaning up drug-related litter, documenting every rough sleeper and engaging with them and developing a new support hub in the town centre.

“While Leigh is not unique in experiencing these problems we are taking them very seriously with a wide-range of actions to address what is a complex and difficult issue.

"There are two locations to offer treatment in Leigh Town Centre – these services are accessible to anyone. Some people take up the option of support and some don’t even with some proactive street engagement.

"We undertake clean-ups of needles and paraphernalia through both cleansing and drug and alcohol services and have a number of needle exchanges in Leigh town centre to allow for safe disposal and distribution of needles/equipment combined with additional harm reduction messages and provision of boxes for safe disposal."

The council supports local homelessness charities across the borough and especially in the Leigh area. This includes financial support through Communities Investment Fund.

The council is also recruiting new outreach workers to work with the homeless and developing an accommodation and support hub in Leigh town centre which will provide emergency accommodation and support. This will bring together charities, commissioned providers, local authority and wider services to tackle homelessness.

Greater Manchester Mayor and former Leigh MP Andy Burnham was among the many people to pay tribute to Chris.

Posting on Twitter, Mr Burnham wrote: “Feel absolutely gutted about this. Used to chat to Chris all the time. We all need to do so much more to tackle homelessness, me included.”