‘Anti-homeless’ bars installed on benches in York have been branded “disgusting” and “sickening”.
Officials from the City of York Council took the decision to attach six metal bars to the two benches at the bus stop on Rougier Street after complaints were made about anti-social behaviour.
But the bars, which were put in place last week, have attracted anger from local residents and a nationwide charity for being seen to be ‘anti-homeless’.
Charlie Hind, 19, from Fishergate, called the move “disgusting”.
He’s been using the buses from the stop for the past three years to get to college, but had an “eye-roll moment” when he saw the bars attached to the benches on Monday morning (June 22).
I would like the council to remove them immediately and spend the money that would be saved by not placing bars like this in other places on shelters and programmes helping to tackle the homelessness problem in York, which has only grown in the last five years as more and more vulnerable people are having their benefits sanctioned.
After he posted about it on Facebook, Caitlynn Eckhardt called for direct action:
‘We are all human beings’
Yasmin Metcalfe, 18, from Clifton Moor, said that she was “extremely angry and upset” at the bars. She told YorkMix:
I would like York council to realise they should really try and invest money on shelters and getting people help, instead of these ridiculous and upsetting attempts to make vulnerable people’s lives that bit harder.
Callum Shannon, 20, from Osbaldwick, added that he thought the situation was “deeply saddening”:
It’s not only terrible, it won’t solve the problem.
‘This isn’t the answer’
A spokesperson for Crisis, a charity for single homeless people, said the situation was “all too common”. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive, said:
Turning our streets into hostile places for rough sleepers isn’t the answer. Instead we must deal with the causes.
The real issue here is the substantial rise in homelessness in recent years.
We desperately need more affordable homes as well as political action to fix our broken private rented sector. At the same time, we must have a safety net that genuinely reflects the reality of renting.
‘Deterring anti-social behaviour’
Similar bars have already been installed inside the half-timbered shelter at the railway station, but on the advice of officials in the council’s transport team, the decision was taken to add more bars on the bus stop outside Rougier Street.
A spokesperson for the council said:
Removing the benches would have an affect on all users of the passenger shelter, so the action taken was to put arms on the benches/ bars underneath them.
The aim of introducing these measures was about deterring recurrent anti-social behaviour by people who collect in this location.
Separately and through the ASB Hub we are taking a multi-agency approach to ensure that we are engaging with rough sleepers and are able to offer the support people need, whether that be in terms of finding accommodation or health provision.