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  1. ITV Report

What do you think of Newmarket mayor's comments on rough sleepers?

Watch Hannah Pettifer's report.

The Mayor of Newmarket has come under fire after claiming homeless people in the town were being "killed with kindness" and encouraged to stay on the streets by handouts.

Councillor Andy Drummond believes the town needs to get tougher and wants to introduce a public spaces protection order (PSPO) to allow police to move on rough sleepers.

He claims homeless people are choosing to sleep on the high street "because of the footfall" and is concerned that "their presence doesn't enhance the shopping experience".

Andy Drummond, Mayor of Newmarket.

"I know it sounds brutal but somebody needs to make a stand. They want to be homeless, they want to passive beg on the high street to get money, drugs and alcohol."

– Cllr Andy Drummond.

But a charity that supports people at risk of becoming homeless in Newmarket has criticised the mayor, saying his comments are not constructive.

John Durrant, Newmarket Open Doors. Credit: ITV News Anglia.

"Some people are in circumstances that are sometimes beyond their control. Each of us has to make our own individual decisions about what we are doing to help other people.

"Sometimes it can be said, if you give people money you are subsidising a habit or encouraging them to not address their issues, but other times you may say 'actually, it's going to happen anyway, at least I can ease their life a little bit'."

– John Durrant, Newmarket Open Door.

PSPOs give public bodies extra powers to deal with anti-social behaviour and activities that have a detrimental affect on the local community.

Newmarket Town Council believes they could be applied to rough sleepers - but has come up against opposition in the form of Forest Heath District Council which says the orders are not appropriate.

We asked what you thought of the mayor's comments:

  • "How about spending money on empty buildings, making them into bedsits for the homeless? They are human beings." - Linda Killengrey.
  • "Yes, it's said and a shame that they are homeless but the councillor has a point." - Natalie Anne Keane.
  • "A lot of homeless people are from broken families and they have been in care. As soon as they are 18, they are booted out instead of given help to get a job and a home. I think this gentleman should look and find out who these people are and perhaps he could try to help them." - Angela Harrison.
  • "You'll find most genuine homeless don't sleep out in the open, preferring to keep out of the way. I've met a few near to where I work and they are not where they are because they want to be." - Jim Turrell.
  • "I think the councillor needs some time on the streets to see how bad it is out there." - Maheen Morgan.
  • "Move these people on to where exactly? Help these people and stop stigmatising them. Stop building expensive homes and build affordable homes." - Corinna Plum.
  • "Forget the shopping experience. You are talking about a human with nowhere to go. Help them." - Tanja Turton.
  • "Nobody chooses to be homeless. How much time has this man spent with the homeless or charities helping them?" - Frank Devlin.