20 DECEMBER 1940, Page 14


Sta,—As you mention in a recent issue places must be found at the reception end where evacuees can live in reasonable comfort. Recep- tion authorities, however, while most anxious to do everything in their power in this connexion find the task well-nigh impossible owing to absorption of accommodation by " others." The entire lack of under- standing by the Government as to this is amazing.

Take my own town—typical of many. On peace-time standards we could have accommodated a large number and said so after the required Government survey of " habitable rooms " in January, 2939. Since the declaration of war large numbers of military units, officers, men, W.A.T.S., &c., have poured in (we are a military centre) and occupy hotels, hostels, requisitioned houses, quarters and billets. War production works have moved here with their personnel and employees, housing accommodation being absorbed. Government departments have likewise absorbed a large hotel and many billets, and other Government departments have " earmarked " premises and billets which are thereby sterilised and not available even for " billetable bombed." Add to all this the arrival of various business undertakings and their employees, educational institutions and scholars and hundreds of others who think our town is more "healthy'' than theirs. Our " pint-pot " was full before the pitiful arrival of the bombed evacuees.

All halls and premises are requisitioned or " earmarked " by Govern- ment departments so that we cannot open hostels, and they, the private evacuees (some from other reception areas) and the billeting authority are all scrambling together for accommodation. There is no co-ordination ordained by the Government. The Ministry of Health (Evacuation Authority) do not know (or care) what other Government departments, much less private individuals, are doing, and the billeting authority is not consulted in some of these cases. No check is placed on the movement of business concerns or non- billetable persons into the reception areas if they think they would like a change of air. The very most the billeting authority can do with the unfortunate " billetables " is to extend every sympathy and help and get them in somehow " somewhere." It is impossible in circumstances such as ours to ensure that they are given reasonable