Metal bars installed on benches to prevent homeless people sleeping on them have been branded a ‘design against humanity’ and ‘shameful’.
Numerous public benches in Bournemouth, Dorset, have been fitted with curved steel bars down the middle of them to make it physically impossible for people to lie down.
The result leaves the bench split in two with the users only be able to sit upright.
Numerous public benches in Bournemouth, Dorset, have been fitted with curved steel bars down the middle of them to make it physically impossible for people to lie down
Outraged locals accused the town hall officials of taking an aggressive and hostile stance against vulnerable rough sleepers.
Bournemouth Borough Council has come under fire before for playing loud bagpipe music late at night at the town’s travel interchange to discourage homeless people from sleeping there.
They also controversially offered to buy them one-way train tickets to go back to where they came from and put up posters urging the public not to give money to beggars.
The result leaves the bench split in two with the users only be able to sit upright
And last week the council admitted its staff had removed sleeping bags of some homeless people in order to keep public spaces clear.
At the same time they denied seizing the belongings of rough sleeper Kevin Fillsell, 65, who was found dead under a flyover.
Stuart Semple, a 37-year-old local artist, said he was disgusted after seeing the metal bars on the benches.
Outraged locals accused the town hall officials of taking an aggressive and hostile stance against vulnerable rough sleepers
Bournemouth Borough Council has come under fire before for playing loud bagpipe music late at night at the town’s travel interchange to discourage homeless people from sleeping there
‘It is an absolutely horrendous piece of design. They have got a dirty great massive metal bar, bent it and drilled it into the middle of Victorian-style benches.
‘Not just one bench but most of the benches on the town centre. Somebody has designed and made it and turned it against humans. It is a design against humanity, it is appalling.
WHO ARE THE PEOPLE SLEEPING ROUGH?
Of the 4,751 rough sleepers counted in autumn 2017:
- 653 (14 per cent) were women
- 760 (16 pr cent) were EU nationals from outside the UK
- 193 (4 per cent) were from outside the EU.
- Nationality of 402 people (8 per cent) was not known – it suggests that some people may not wish to disclose their non-UK nationality.
- 370 (8 per cent) were 18 – 25 years old.
- 3 persons (less than 0.1 per cent) were under 18 years old
‘They are an absolute eyesore, paid for with taxpayers’ money. They send out one signal and one signal only and that is homeless people are not welcome in this town.’
Bournemouth council said they’ve taken the step in response to complaints from shop owners who said their customers could not sit down because of people lying on the benches.
Local councillor Vikki Slade said: ‘The people who use benches to sleep on are not there at three o’clock in the afternoon when shoppers want to have a rest from Marks and Spencer.
‘I think it is a very aggressive and hostile move against the most vulnerable people in society.
‘It sends out the message that rough sleepers aren’t welcome and doesn’t do the reputation of the town any good. It is shameful and shows a lack of compassion.’
Local resident Max Slaughter said: ‘Not only is this clearly not a solution to the problem of homelessness in this country, but it’s an actively malicious policy.’
A spokesman for Conservative-run Bournemouth council defended the move.
The number of people sleeping rough in England reached a recorded high of 4,751 in the autumn of last year, new data reveals today – with almost a quarter in London alone
They said: ‘Changes were made to a small number of benches only following numerous complaints by members of the public and local traders.
‘The complaints related to a number of the benches being unavailable to members of the public throughout the day due to people lying on them.’
They pointed out the work they do behind the scenes to help homeless people, including providing 150 hostel bed spaces for them and funding a local rough sleeper outreach team.