Outrage as council plans to charge rough sleepers £1,000

Stoke City Council’s proposals to fine rough sleepers in the city has been met with outrage.

The proposed Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) will make it an offence for a person to ‘assemble, erect, occupy or use’ a tent.

Anyone who fails to pay their £100 on-the-spot penalty notice can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 in court.

GMB, the union for workers in the Potteries, says the decision is an outrage, adding that “we’re not going to solve the issues or causes around this by criminalising or punishing those who end up sleeping on our streets”.

The PSPO will cover the city centre, Hanley Park, Festival Park and the neighbouring Octagon Retail Park.

Stuart Richards, GMB Senior Organiser, said: “Cuts to benefits, council funding and a lack of affordable housing have led to a massive increase in the number of people affected by homelessness across the West Midlands.

“GMB is asking the people of Stoke to take part in the council’s consultation to help to force a change in this proposal.”

Ruth Smeeth, Member of Parliament for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, added: “This is a cruel and callous policy to inflict on our most vulnerable in the lead up to Christmas. We do have a growing problem with homelessness here in Stoke-on-Trent, but punishing people for their misfortune is no way to fix it.

“It’s right and proper that the police take action to stop anti-social behaviour on our streets, but punishing the homeless simply for being homeless is appalling.

“In recent years we’ve seen local funding for drug and alcohol treatment slashed and support to tackle homelessness cut to the bone. Locking these people up or saddling them with debt they can’t pay will only make the problem worse.”

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