Rough sleepers were left angered as their place of shelter was barricaded with a message sprayed stating: “What homeless people?”
The agreement to board up the entrance next of a disused Co-operative bank has angered many in the local area, because local rough sleepers used to kip in the doorway.
The commercial bank, in Kentish Town, north London, continues to lease the site despite it being empty for more than a year, but only recently boarded up the shelter.
They claim the decision was taken “after complaints from the local residents’ association” – but they refused to name which one.
Civic group Kentish Town Road Action (KTRA) stated they had no knowledge of a complaint made in their name.
John Nicholson, from KTRA, said: “It’s definitely not KTRA that have complained about it, I can promise you.
“It’s clearly not the best way to deal with rough sleeping. I understand that help from Camden Council was offered, but they refused.
“In terms of what you do then, I’m afraid I don’t know the answer. Clearly there is a bigger problem in terms of affordable housing in London.”
Isky Gordon, chairman of the Bartholomew Area Residents’ Association (BARA) said that his association had not issued the complaint either.
He said: “Certainly as chairman I’ve not communicated with the Co-op at all.
“Homelessness in London is an enormous issue. Is the answer to stop one or two sleeping there?
“On a humane basis it’s a pity that you are stopping one or two people having shelter, but you can’t really ask one spot to solve the problem in Camden.
“It’s a pity it’s boarded up, but I wouldn’t go to Co-op and say you are guilty of poor treatment.”
Debbie Hyams, chairwoman of the Inkerman Area Residents Association, said they had not complained to the Co-operative, adding: “A couple of people have expressed concerns about rough sleepers, but I certainly didn’t complain.”
John Glackin, who runs the Streets Kitchen group that provides food, clothing and other support for the homeless in Camden, said: “It’s no answer to solving homelessness, you are just moving the problem elsewhere.
“The two guys that lived there were doing no harm and were looking for a bit of safety.
“Since he’s left there one of the guys has been badly beaten up in his sleeping bag.”
He added: “There’s an empty building there that could be put to good use. These empty buildings could be opened up, at least temporarily.”
When contacted by the New Journal, Peter Kenny, of Kenny Properties which owns the site along with 19 others on the street, said: “[Co-op] have full control of the building. Any decision to board it up was taken by Co-op.”
A spokeswoman for the bank said: “Although The Co-operative Bank is still leaseholder for this property, it is the management agency that has taken the decision to board up the premises after complaints from the local residents’ association, and concerns about the security of the vacant property.”
The property’s management agency Stiles Harold Williams refused to comment.
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