1. ITV Report

Council vows to remove 'anti-homeless' bars from benches after public backlash

The bars were installed by the council after 'multiple complaints' Photo: ITV Meridian

Bournemouth Borough Council has vowed to remove 'anti-homeless' bars from benches in the town centre after a public backlash.

More than 19,000 people signed a petition to remove the bars claiming they were installed to stop homeless people sleeping on them.

Musician Professor Green became involved in the row by posting footage of his friend removing the bars last week.

Credit: Professor Green TV

The council has "reviewed its decision" stating they will be removed "in the next few days".

The bars cost the council £3,650 to buy and install.

Credit: ITV Meridian

Read the full Council statement below:

The decision last summer to install the bars on a very small number of benches in key select locations in the town centre was made by a multi agency operational group, chaired by the Council and attended by the Police, Rough Sleeper Team and the Town Centre BiD. The decision was taken in response to many complaints about people lying on them throughout the day, meaning that wider members of the community were unable to use them to sit on."

“However we have listened to the extensive feedback over the last week and in light of the depth of feeling, have today reviewed that decision and agreed to have the bars removed."

“Homelessness prevention and support is a significant and growing issue nationally and the Council continues to maintain that as a society we should be aiming far higher than a bench for people to sleep on. That is why the Council spends almost £10 million each year in Bournemouth supporting vulnerable members of our community who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to help avoid them becoming roofless."

“The Council receives almost 1,000 enquiries each and every month from people stating they are worried about housing or homelessness. The range of support provided by the Council is wide reaching including offering rent deposit loans, numerous dedicated supported housing hostels, teams of housing support workers in the community, mental health support plus much more."

“However, despite these preventative services, there is still a small number of people who sadly still end up sleeping on the streets despite efforts to deliver support and advice services before this point is reached. Our rough sleeper outreach services are out 6 days a week to build trust with people sleeping rough in the town and each month around 15 people are helped into long term accommodation. This work has been in place for many years and will continue to be a key priority for the Council."

“The recent media serves as a reminder that the issues of homelessness sadly continue to increase. We have always remained committed across our many teams in Bournemouth to prevent homelessness for people and will continue to do so going forward.”

– Cllr Robert Lawton, Bournemouth Borough Council