A TEAM of more than 200 council workers spent a night searching for rough sleepers in south Wirral and Cheshire - but found only four.
Funded by government grants, the workers trawled the county for homeless people to build up an accurate picture of the extent of the problem.
But the massive hunt revealed homelessness levels are tiny.
In Ellesmere Port, 25 paid members of staff and three volunteers were issued with maps, torches and safety alarms and sent off in groups.
But after the night-long search they found only one person.
Tony Mousdale, assistant chief housing officer for Ellesmere Port and Neston Borough Council, said: "We were given a government grant and we spent about £1,000 of it on the count.
"It was worthwhile. Under the Homelessness Act we are required to review homelessness in the borough and it has given us a full view as to the extent of rough sleeping. It gives us a clearer picture.
"We found one person. It is not a major problem in the area and the exercise has confirmed that, certainly not compared to the big cities.
"That's not to say there aren't issues generally around homelessness.
"We have always provided an estimated figure in the past, but it has been based on anecdotal evidence from the police and social services.
"The grant was used for overtime for the staff and equipment such as torches and travelling expenses and some money went on refreshments."
The county-wide sweep also uncovered one rough sleeper in Warrington and two in Macclesfield.
Teams in Crewe, Vale Royal, Halton and Congleton combed the area without finding evidence of any people living on the streets.
According to figures released in November, Liverpool has 10 rough sleepers and Wirral's last count, in June 2003, found two.
Despite the cost and manpower used in the count it has been hailed a success for proving the county has low levels of homelessness.
Cllr Graham Smith, mayor of Ellesmere Port and Neston, said: "People were genuinely searching. We tried, but we didn't find anybody.
"But that in itself is a mini success. Thank heavens there aren't more people out there sleeping rough.
"It may seem like another government missive and more money being spent but I can see the sense of it."