A COMMUNITY leader has spoken of his shock at finding two men sleeping in a refuse skip near the centre of Wrexham in sub-zero temperatures.

As snow blanketed the area, Caia Park community councillor John Humberstone went out on Wednesday night with two friends looking for people forced to sleep outdoors to offer them help and advice.

It was while looking around the Wrexham Central retail park that they saw two men crawling inside a large refuse container in a service road behind the the shops close near the railway line.

Cllr Humberstone said: “There are a few of these massive refuse skips down there for the shop to dump their rubbish. We drove up close and saw two men climbing inside one of the skips.

“They were obviously planning to sleep in there as they had nowhere else to go.

“There was also evidence of people sleeping in the other skips as there was a bicycle near one of them.

“We got out and spoke to the men who I’d say were in their mid-20s. They wouldn’t come out and speak to us so but we left a waterproof cover and told them where they could go for help.”

Cllr Humberstone added: “I was quite shocked to see someone actually getting ready to sleep in a refuse skip, especially on a night like that when it was below freezing and there was snow everywhere.

“You don’t expect to see that sort of thing in 2010.”

Andy Lewis, Wrexham Council’s chief housing and public protection officer, said: “Homeless or potentially homeless persons are encouraged to contact the council’s Housing Options service.”

He added: “Of 658 homeless applications made last year, the council provided 316 applicants, who met the criteria set by the Welsh Assembly, with permanent accommodation.

“For those that did not meet the criteria the council will always try to offer assistance such as advice or homeless prevention measures.”

Mr Lewis added: “In the case of homeless people who are sleeping rough their circumstances can be caused in a variety of ways but they remain as rough sleepers usually because they are either not in a priority need category or are intentionally homeless or both.”

He added: “Ty Nos, Wrexham’s permanent night shelter provides shelter for rough sleepers throughout the year for up to 12 males and up to four females.”

No-one was available for comment at Biffa waste management company which operates the skips.