A major political row has kicked off in Liverpool over an emergency meeting regarding the city's spiralling homelessness crisis.

The city is experiencing a soaring homelessness emergency at present, as a combination of rising evictions, a lack of housing and a rapid escalation in refugee applications have combined to create a humanitarian disaster on the streets of the city.

Liverpool Council's leader Liam Robinson has declared the situation an emergency and written to government to ask for urgent extra funding to help tackle the crisis.

The Liverpool Echo has published a number of special reports on the homelessness crisis in the city, including focussing on the plight of hundreds of now homeless refugees.

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But now the city's main opposition party has weighed into the matter, arguing that an emergency council meeting should be held on the specific subject of homelessness in the city.

Liberal Democrat leader Carl Cashman says he asked for the special meeting to be held, but was told by Lord Mayor Cllr Mary Rasmussen that the first opportunity to hold such a meeting will be in around two months time, on January 17.

He has called for the meeting to be brought forward, but the Labour leader of the council has suggested he could have raised the issue at tomorrow's full council meeting and accused Cllr Cashman of creating a "manufactured political row."

Cllr Cashman said: "We called for this meeting because it’s such an urgent issue. We have weather worsening week by week, a mounting bill for temporary accommodation, and more people sleeping rough than in a very long time.

"I’ve urged the Lord Mayor to reconsider and hold the meeting sooner, we cannot sit on our hands and do nothing whilst our city facing such a daunting crisis. This motion won’t stop homelessness in Liverpool overnight, but it will make sure that as the council and as the representatives of everyone in this city, we aren’t walking past them in the street and ignoring them."

Cllr Cashman added: "This year alone we’ve had two cases where the Local Government Ombudsman ruled against Liverpool City Council because they failed in their duty of care. This isn’t just about talk, next week I’ve arranged to go out with The Whitechapel Centre and join them on their morning round.

"Like with the OFSTED report into Children’s services, we need to have a special meeting so we as a council can recognise what has gone wrong and what we can learn from it. There are a lot of national pressures, like the temporary accommodation bill, but also local failings like Labour returning a staggering £4 million in government funding after abandoning plans for a proposed Homeless Recovery Centre on Smithdown Lane."

Responding to Cllr Cashman and the Liberal Democrats, council leader Liam Robinson said: "First and foremost lets focus on the issue that unites all of us. We all acknowledge there is a housing and homelessness crisis in this city and a national crisis. It is absolutely right that we focus on that and as an administration we have been focussing on that. We have brought it to national attention and we are putting in plans to address it.

"I think being honest, Carl and the Lib Dem's intervention is a bit of a manufactured political row. We have got a full council meeting tomorrow, they had the opportunity to put anything they want to onto that agenda and they chose not to. They should have put that forward and we would have been discussing it tomorrow night."

The council's cabinet member for housing Sarah Doyle also pointed out that the homelessness crisis was discussed at a recent council neighbourhoods committee.

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