AN action group has warned that homeless people in Oxfordshire may lose their lives this winter after an innovative solution to the problem was rejected by councillors.

Witney-based Homes4All – which campaigns for more support for homeless people in Witney and the rest of the county – wanted to use a double decker bus as emergency accommodation for rough sleepers.

It had hoped to acquire enough funding to purchase a bus, which would be called the Jumpstart Bus, by the end of the year, in time to offer vital support during the winter to homeless people across the county.

Helping the cause, Green Party councillors took the issue to Oxford City Council on Monday evening, requesting £20,000 for the project, only to have the bid rejected.

Deborah Robson-Grey, of Homes4All, described the meeting as ‘horrendous’, and said the decision, which left her ‘heartbroken’, was exemplary of the council’s lack of compassion.

The Welch Way resident said: “Even when they were voting for other motions, not everyone agreed.

“But for this one they were like sheep. All of their hands shot up to vote it out.

"There was no attempt to review, talk at another time or set up a meeting.

“And over the past year the council’s behaviour has been questionable on several fronts.

"They have shown it’s a political argument and not one of humanity.

“Homes4All is saddened and distressed that lives may be lost.”

The group took the bid to Oxford City Council as it felt the authority would be best placed to help and because of a focus on homeless in the city at the moment.

The motion, put to the council by deputy leader of the Green Party group, Craig Simmons, called on the council to invest £20,000 of its reserves in Homes4All, giving it the money required to develop the homelessness bus.

The vehicle would be similar to a bus owned by The Ark Project, based in Reading, that already provides accommodation to homeless people.

It would serve as a bridge between sleeping on the streets and more permanent solutions.

Witney residents were given a sample of what the vehicle may look like on Sunday, when the Ark Project’s bus was displayed in Market Square by Homes4All.

In his motion to the council, Mr Simmons, focusing on what the bus could offer, asked that: “This council recognises that, despite on-going efforts to prevent the need for people to sleep rough on Oxford’s streets, there remains a large number of individuals in Oxford– namely those without an officially recognised local connection – for whom no immediate solution is available.

“This council notes the launch of a scheme by Homes4All to convert buses into homeless night shelters, and recognises that those without a local connection would be able to use the bus.”

He noted the ambition of Homes4All to ‘get its first bus up and running by the end of the year to be ready for this year’s cold spell’.

Oxford recently lost one of its homeless shelters – Lucy Faithfull House – after funding cuts, while plans for a new centre in Rymers Lane, Cowley, are currently being worked on.

Labour councillor Mike Rowley was one of those to oppose the scheme – but insisted that communication between Homes4All and the council was ongoing.

He expressed concerns that the money would be diverted from other homelessness services.

He added: “I couldn’t recommend diverting money to this project, especially when so many concerns have been raised about its effectiveness.

“I do think there may be some role for a mobile service providing outreach to parts of Oxfordshire where those services don’t exist.”

Homes4All is pushing ahead with a crowdfunding campaign to help it buy the bus.

To make a donation see