ANDY Burnham stated in the BN February 15 that he still pledges to end rough sleeping by 2020, in Greater Manchester. I support him in his aims.

The number of rough sleepers seems to be underestimated by councils right across the area. Take Bolton for example, the latest figure is seven so they say, down from eight in 2017, when official government figures number rough sleepers at 17 this year, more than double the number from 2017.

Andy Burnham does admit that real totals may be a lot higher in reality, I ask the question why does Bolton Council continue to come up with a much lower count of rough sleeping in the borough, even contradicting official government figures?

One person sleeping on our streets is one too many. Of course the Tory Government is totally responsible for the doubling of people rough sleeping, with its draconian benefit cuts, and its austerity programme, austerity is a political choice by our government, which has failed totally.

After saying that, it does not serve any useful purpose for our council to continually give reduced numbers to what is a much higher number.

How can homelessness be tackled if the real scale of the problem is not recognised? I say to Andy Burnham, and Bolton Council that with the correct political will, homelessness, could be ended now.

In Bolton alone there are thousands of empty properties that have been standing empty for some time.

Organisations such as Homeless Aid UK in Bolton, and Bolton against the Bedroom Tax could give more on the ground information of the true number of rough sleepers in the town, which is much higher than even the official government figure.

Alan Johnson,

Bolton Green Party