HOMELESS people claim a council contractor is paying for them to be taxied between Chester and Ellesmere Port every day at £30 a time.
Rough sleepers say Foundation Enterprises North West (FENW) covers the taxi fare from the city to a unit at Stoak Lodge, Ellesmere Port, where they rest in chairs overnight before being brought back the next morning.
They claim there are fewer emergency beds available since Chester Aid to the Homeless closed its eight-bed Crispin House shelter when it lost the homeless contract.
However, FENW hopes to open its controversial 36-bed hostel at Richmond Court in Boughton later this year.
One homeless man Gary Hine, 42, who had spent the previous night at Roodee House in Chester, said: “They were going to get me a taxi last night to Stoak Lodge and I said ‘what’s the point when there’s a settee here and it will save you £30?’ because they were going to get a taxi just for me to Stoak Lodge.”
Mr Hine, who has been on the streets for the last 10 years, added: “They think that getting rid of the homeless and the beggars out of Chester and putting them in Ellesmere Port is going to solve the problem but it’s not because they’ve still got to come to Chester for appointments.
“So they’re still going to spend all day in Chester anyway and they go back to Ellesmere Port at 10pm.”
Cllr Justin Madders, Labour opposition leader on Cheshire West and Chester Council, said: “The money for this will be coming from the taxpayer somewhere along the line.
“I do not know how the use of such money to ferry homeless people between Ellesmere Port and Chester in taxis can be justified whoever is footing the bill. It sounds to me like the system is a shambles.”
A FENW spokesman said: “There are a small number of individuals who, through our assessment procedures prior to the contract going live, requested a move to Ellesmere Port and wish to consider more permanent residence in this community.
“Our assessment revealed that some of these individuals required the successful transfer of a number of their statutory relationships with health partners and others. The mechanics of this can take some time and on this basis we agreed to support some individuals with transport costs for a limited period of time.
“All costs for this are being met by FENW through the contract.”