Thursday, 10 January 2019 15:51

Barnet Councillors’ pledge to tackle rough sleepers and street drinkers

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Councillors Lisa Rutter (left) and Alison Cornelius examining a sleeping area of one of the rough sleepers outside Chipping Barnet Library Councillors Lisa Rutter (left) and Alison Cornelius examining a sleeping area of one of the rough sleepers outside Chipping Barnet Library
Chipping Barnet Residents Forum has been given an assurance that Barnet Council will take action to remove up to three homeless men who bed down each night in alcoves and under bay windows outside Chipping Barnet Library in Stapylton Road.

After an angry forum meeting inside the library (9.1.2019) – when residents pleaded for action against anti-social behaviour – the Barnet Society took the forum chairman and vice chairman, Councillors Lisa Rutter and Alison Cornelius, outside the building to show where one of the rough sleepers had laid out his sleeping bag.

Residents accused Barnet Council of abandoning High Barnet and failing to take any steps to tackle street drinkers and rough sleepers who congregate outside the library, in the High Street and Church Passage.

Councillor Rutter gave an undertaking that action would be taken across council departments to deal with the rough sleepers’ encampments outside the library and also on the grassy slope beside the Spires shopping centre bus stops and in shop doorways along the High Street.

“What is happening with the homeless is very sad to see. We want homeless people to get help, but we must take action and firm up the council’s response.

“We will inform Barnet Residents Association on what can be done to improve liaison with the Police and co-ordinate action by the Safer Neighbourhood Team,” said Councillor Rutter.

A petition calling for action to stop rough sleepers gathering around the library was presented to the meeting by the Association’s representative, Gordon Massey, who said that nearby residents in Carnarvon Road were at their wits end because of rising anti-social behaviour which included men urinating and defecating in the bushes in the library gardens.

There were usually at least three homeless men sleeping there each night, but during the day they attracted up to half a dozen street drinkers who were intimidating young mothers when taking their children to school.

“Local residents are sympathetic to the men’s plight, and some do give them bedding and money, and efforts have been made to entice them away, but they are resistant to being helped and prefer to stay where they are.

“They moved to the library when an exclusion order was issued for the bus stop area, and all they had to do was move fifty yards across the road. This has been going on for months.”

Mr Massey was immediately backed by several Carnarvon Road residents. One demanded action: “We live opposite and my three and six-year-old boys can’t look at the men, especially when street drinkers join them, and they all hang around in an intimidating way.”

Another nearby resident said she had spoken to the men and they had explained how they’d become homeless.

Local residents are sympathetic to the men’s plight, and some do give them bedding and money...

“We get six or seven of them in the day and they are all drunk by 8am in the morning. Sometimes they carry on drinking all day until 2 or 3am in the morning. It’s become a community no-go area.”

When challenged over the council’s failure to take legal action to evict rough sleepers from council land, Councillor Rutter promised she would speak personally to the council’s strategic director for the environment.

A second petition from Barnet Residents Association, presented by Ken Rowland, called for improvements in street cleaning in the High Street and adjoining roads.

Mr Rowland praised the efforts of the High Barnet’s dedicated street sweeper but said there was no street cleaning at all in some of the roads adjoining the High Street.

He was supported by Mr Massey who asked Councillor Rutter why High Barnet was never visited by the council’s pavement washing machine. “There are terrible stains on the High Street pavement.” He also called on the council to replace the High Street’s rusty and broken cast iron refuse bins with bins of a more functional design.

Councillor Rutter promised she would ask the relevant council departments to see what could be done to improve the High Street.

She gave a similar undertaking to examine complaints about renewed fly tipping along St Albans Road.

Mr Rowland said action had been promised last September but St Albans Road was in a worse state then ever with the verges littered with old fridges, three-piece suites, mattresses and builders waste.

Mr Massey said the roadside was thick with bottles and cans and it was no wonder the area attracted fly tipping, but St Albans Road was far cleaner and tidier after the Hertsmere boundary.

“The reason is quite simple. Hertsmere send out teams several times a year to clear the rubbish, but Barnet Council does nothing and the mess there is an advertisement that is a dump for fly tippers.”


  

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8 comments

  • Comment Link Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:16 posted by Sophie Riches

    Wow, could the council be any more insensitive if they tried?

  • Comment Link Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:17 posted by Emma Carney-Holliday

    Tackle rough sleepers? What about helping them?

  • Comment Link Thursday, 10 January 2019 17:23 posted by Sophie Riches

    Maybe if the benefits system and council housing wasn’t so impossible these poor people wouldn’t need to sleep out in the cold. They are the people suffering, not the over sensitive, selfish twats who are so disgusted to be confronted with poverty on their doorsteps that they find alternative routes home to their cosy, warm homes.

  • Comment Link Thursday, 10 January 2019 19:18 posted by JP

    The rise is people sleeping rough in High Barnet has been shocking and is a complete disgrace. What sort of society are we becoming? The austerity policies supported by our councillors and local MP are to blame.The solution is to stop voting Conservative. Austerity has hit High Barnet hard and our councillors seem to have absolutely no ideas apart from handing over all our services and responsibility to Capita. We desperately need some real vision and a change.

  • Comment Link Saturday, 12 January 2019 08:51 posted by Paul

    "The council is currently consulting on the draft Homelessness and Rough Sleeping Strategy"
    https://engage.barnet.gov.uk/Housing_Homeless_and_Rough_Sleeping

  • Comment Link Monday, 14 January 2019 13:53 posted by A local resident

    If you vote for a Conservative government that implements a near decade-long ideological assault on the country under the banner of 'austerity' by penalising the most vulnerable in our society while lining the pockets of the already-wealthy then, frankly, when it comes to an increase in homeless people, you reap what you sow.

    I wonder how many residents' 'sympathy for the men's plight' would extend to changing the habit of a lifetime and not voting Conservative locally and nationally?

    And if the strategy is to be moving homeless people on to artificially 'solve' the problem for nimby residents, presumably you'd need police officers to implement this and we all know there aren't any of them anymore (see 'austerity').

  • Comment Link Friday, 18 January 2019 13:06 posted by Linda OShea

    Sometimes the rough sleepers do not want to be helped. But when they are defecating and urinating in open spaces in full view of children, and drunk by 8am in the morning, not everyone wants to walk past this every day on their way to work at way past the retirement age. I know for a fact that the men who sleep rough behind the Library and also outside the grass verge at The Spires have been offered help on several occasions but they prefer to drink all day and make themselves a thorough nuisance.

  • Comment Link Friday, 29 March 2019 21:50 posted by Ms Frenchum

    I wonder if a planning application for a sculpture at this location is a disguise just to stop rough sleepers?

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