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19,000 sign petition to remove 'anti-homeless' bars from benches in Bournemouth town centre

The bars cost £3,650 and were installed after 'multiple complaints' Photo: ITV Meridian

More than 19,000 people have signed a petition to remove 'anti-homeless' bars from benches in Bournemouth town centre.

It comes as MP for Bournemouth East Tobias Ellwood slept rough on Saturday night to raise awareness of homelessness.

It was part of a wider event taking place in eight towns and cities across the UK.

The bars were installed by Bournemouth Borough Council at a cost of £3,650.

It follows 'multiple complaints' by residents, visitors and businesses.

The Council says the complaints related to the benches being unavailable to members of the public throughout the day.

The petition is calling for the bars to be removed Credit: ITV Meridian

It comes after rapper Professor Green filmed his friend removing the 'anti-homeless' bars and posted the footage online last week.

The bars have since been re-installed.

Credit: Professor Green TV

"...as a Council, we need to maintain a careful balance between our responsibility to the wider public to ensure that amenities are available to them, and our duty of care to vulnerable members of our community, including people rough sleeping." "Changes were made to a small number of benches in very specific locations in the town centre several months ago, and 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 during the daytime."

"...we would like to clarify the work carried out on the benches was undertaken last year in response to multiple complaints made by residents, visitors and businesses concerned over the use of the benches. The total cost to carry out the work was £3,650 (this included the purchase and installation costs)."

– Bournemouth Borough Council

Read the full statement from Bournemouth Borough Council relating to this story here