Petition update

What next? Meeting Monday 6 July 7pm Friends Meeting House, Friargate, York

Richard Bridge
York, United Kingdom

Jul 3, 2015 — York People's Assembly have kindly supported this petition and offered the space to collaborate to decide what the next step should be.

Next Monday (6th July @ 7pm)* there is a meeting in which that can be discussed - it doesn't matter if you have been to a PA meeting before (I have only been to 1 or 2). There is an intro session at 7pm with the main meeting starting at 730pm.

We want to present the petition perhaps at the next full City of York council meeting and possibly combine it with some other actions.

In the meantime, I have attached the body of an email I have received from City of York which sets out what they say is the background information to this. I will leave you to make your own mind up about it but we can discuss next Monday evening. Look forward to seeing as many of you there as possible! And keep sharing please - we are up to 2,095 signatories.

City of York

The problem at Rougier Street is essentially a conflict between two vulnerable groups of people whose uses of Rougier Street bus shelter are mutually exclusive. As a local authority we have a duty of care to both groups.

On the one hand, the bus shelter is used by many thousands of bus passengers a day. The bus passengers represent a spectrum of society and include elderly people, people with medical conditions, young people etc. Many of them prefer to be able to sit down when they are waiting for their bus, and the benches in the shelter are for them to do this. We received numerous complaints from bus passengers about the street drinkers at Rougier Street being aggressive, drinking in this location and urinating/ fouling the footway, something which is a public health issue and needs to be tackled under any circumstance. As Rougier Street bus shelter is provided for bus passengers, we have taken the view that this group’s needs take precedence.

On the other hand, the street drinkers at this location are also a vulnerable group. However, it should be pointed out that they are, on the whole, not homeless. Also, we are not aware that the shelter is used by homeless people as a location to sleep overnight (we monitor this via our Bus Wardens who are on duty from 7AM and confirm that incidences of people sleeping at this location are very rare – intuitively this makes sense because the area is very busy until the early hours of the morning because of the pubs/ clubs nearby - then becomes busy again from 6 as the bus network starts up).

Having consulted with the Police about the problems at Rougier Street we were advised that the most appropriate action to tackle the street drinking problem there was either to remove the benches entirely or fit them with arms/ underbars. Removing the benches would harm all users of the passenger shelter, many of whom are elderly or have restricted mobility (or may simply be carrying heavy shopping), so the action taken was to (a) put arms on the benches/ bars underneath them (so that it was harder to recline in the seats and to put beer/ cider underneath them) and (b) to improve the cleaning regime for the shelters to tackle the public health issues.

Homeless accommodation in York

CYC’s Resettlement Service advise that there are over 90 hostel beds in York (Tier 1), including 8 “emergency” beds for individuals who are found sleeping rough, and over 50 (Tier 2) beds. CYC runs a programme called No Second Night Outdoors specifically to assist people sleeping rough in the city and help them find a place in a hostel. Tim Carroll, the manager of the Resettlement Service tells me that the individuals who are street drinking in Rougier Street are known to both the Police and the Resettlement Service and know about the availability of hostel accommodation, which they choose not to take up. Furthermore, several of them already have permanent accommodation in the city (e.g. flats in the suburbs) which they choose not to use. A meeting I had with the Police and CYC’s own Anti-Social Behaviour Unit made it clear that a number of agencies are leading a whole series of interventions with the individuals concerned in the hope that this will reduce the substance abuse and mental health problems that many of the street drinkers suffer.

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