TEN pods on the grounds of a leisure centre to give rough sleepers shelter over the winter will be closed at the end of this month.

The temporary dwellings for the homeless at Blackburn's Shadsworth Leisure Centre were paid for by the government.

New accommodation for their occupants have now been found and the rental cost is to great for Blackburn with Darwen Council to keep them.

A report to the borough's adult services boss Cllr Mustafa Desai by departmental director Sayyed Osman recommended their closure from March 31 when the government's winter Protect Programme grant runs out.

It says: "The local authority has a moral and humanitarian duty to provide emergency accommodation to rough sleepers during nights of extreme cold weather when the temperature is forecast below zero

degrees for consecutive nights.

" In Blackburn with Darwen we have always provided accommodation throughout the months November to March irrespective of the temperature.

"Due to the pandemic, accommodation this year has had to be on an individual basis unlike previous years when it was communal style.

"This year’s provision has consisted of individual rooms at the Salvation Army and Bodum Court (formally known as Shadsworth House) and supplemented by the homeless pods located adjacent to the now closed Shadsworth Leisure Centre.

"These have proven to be an expensive form of accommodation and although they have not incurred a direct cost to this authority as they have been funded through the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government, they have cost in excess of £100,000 for the four months of operation.

"That said, the pods have been a useful addition to the provision and have helped to ensure that the most chaotic rough sleepers who are excluded from all other forms of accommodation have been kept safe throughout the winter months.

"Work has been undertaken to move the residents of the pod village on to other forms of accommodation, utilising a third sector organisation who secured funding to provide tenancies and support for chaotic individuals.

"We have been in discussions with MHCLG and have been granted funding to utilise this organisation to provide further properties and increased support for the most chaotic of the rough sleepers.

"We aim to have offers of accommodation for those in the pods by the end of March."