‘Tony’s death is a wake-up call to the council’

Tony Porter
Tony Porter

A man with learning disabilities and an alcohol addiction died because the city couldn’t cope with his problems, officials claim.

Tony Porter’s lifeless body was found outside the Church of Christ the Cornerstone almost a year after he was thrown out of rehab for using legal highs.

He had lived on the streets for more than a decade, but regularly turned to the council, hostels and homeless projects for help.

Just before Christmas, the 33-year-old was living at the YMCA but was asked to leave after he started drinking again.

Simon Green, operations director at YMCA said: “His needs were too challenging for the homeless services in Milton Keynes, which are facing huge funding cuts.

“Tony’s death questions the city’s priorities. MK is a prosperous place filled with people who have nice homes and cars, but it’s failing to look after its most vulnerable.”

There are currently dozens of rough sleepers across MK and up to 2,500 vulnerable people on the brink of being homeless.

This week, cross-party councillors are urging the cabinet to pay £100,000 towards a one-stop-shop for the homeless.

It will enforce charities such as Open Door, Help Our Homeless and Night Shelter to share information under one roof.

Chris Williams, chairman of the homelessness task and finish group, said: “Homelessness and the number of rough sleepers is on the increase.

“Any death is a waste, but Tony’s is a wake-up call to the council. We need to recognise the urgency to make this happen.

“My heart says it could save lives, it must.”

Mr Porter, who died on Monday, was handed MK’s last-ever ASBO last year for being drunk and disorderly in the city centre.

His cousin Jodie Hill this week said: “Tony has had a difficult life and I know a lot of people have tried to help him along the way.

“I would like to believe that maybe now he is with the people he truly loved and missed for far too long, and will start a fresh in another life.”

She has so far raised £1,235 on a justgiving page to pay for his funeral.

Mr Porter was known to Milton Keynes Council. As the Citizen went to press, the council had failed to explain why he had slipped through the net of their services for homeless people or vulnerable adults with learning difficulties.

A council spokesman said: “Our thoughts go to Tony Porter’s family and friends following his tragic death in such sad circumstances.

“Milton Keynes Council had worked to support Mr Porter over a number of years, alongside other partner organisations, including talking with him to explore housing opportunities and other programmes on several occasions.”