Remove the PSPO targeting the Homeless in Poole.
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Homeless people sleeping rough in Poole town centre, and beggars asking for money for food are to be banned and fined by Conservative-controlled Poole Council.
A draft proposal to carry out this threat, published last September, was immediately slammed by Poole Labour Party and local church groups as being cruel and uncaring, victimising those who the system had already let down.
But the proposal, called a ‘Public Spaces Protection Order’ came into force on 1 February, despite the protests. Poole Labour had found overwhelming anger among local residents about the targeting of homeless people in the draft order, and demanded the council get rid of the offending clauses.
But under the final order, homeless people are banned from bedding down ‘in any doorway belonging to any retail, licenced or commercial premises or in any multi-storey car park between 8am and midnight’. And people begging are ‘prohibited from sitting … in a public place with any receptacle used to contain money from the public’ as well as being banned from verbally asking for money or food. Anyone who does any of this can be convicted and fined up to £1,000.
The draft proposal was the subject of a public consultation. Poole Labour Party is demanding the council over turn this decision after seeing the results confirmed people did not request this action.
Katie Taylor, Chair of Poole Labour Party, said: ‘’ I believe Poole Labour’s campaign has stopped the Conservatives on the council from directly branding the homeless in the town centre as criminals, which is what they wanted to do in the original order, but the callousness of the clauses banning the homeless from sleeping rough remains breath-taking.
“It is the Conservative-controlled council’s failure to provide sufficient affordable housing combined with their own government’s clamp-down on benefits for those in need, which are the root causes of the horrifying increase in homelessness. For the uncaring, local Conservatives to now penalise those who are victims of their party’s own policies is appalling. These people need help, not punishment. The mere suggestion of fining the homeless still turns these vulnerable people into criminals in the eyes of the public, fostering suspicion rather than sympathy and shielding the real issues of austerity.
“In light of the tragic death of the homeless man ‘Kev’ in Bournemouth recently, Poole Council should think very carefully about these measures. I urge them to remove the clauses which will allow for a ban and fines for sleeping in doorways and car parks. When exposed to the bad weather and biting cold these places might be the only shelter the homeless can rely on.”
Since the Conservatives came to power in 2010, homelessness in the UK has more than doubled according to the government’s own figures. The most up to date statistics show that each night 4,751 people slept rough on Britain’s streets throughout Autumn 2017.
We expect the homeless to be treated with compassion, not cruelty. Poole Council, remove the clauses in the PSPO which are needlessly targeting those who are the most vulnerable.
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