Manchester council take homeless to court to clear city centre

Manchester council are seeking a city centre-wide injunction against the campaigners, which would ban the group from entering, sleeping or setting up tents in the city centre

Alexandra Sims
Monday 29 June 2015 22:29
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Homeless people campaigning for better treatment in the city of Manchester could be put in jail if an “oppressive” injunction to remove them from the city goes ahead.

Manchester council are seeking a city centre-wide injunction against the campaigners, which would ban the group from entering, sleeping or setting up tents in the city centre.

The protesters, who have called their campaign the Manchester Rights of Justice Protest, have been camping for two months at various locations in the city claiming that the council is not making sufficient efforts to house the city’s homeless population.

The demonstration initially started in Albert Square adjacent to Manchester Town Hall but has been moved on three times by authorities. The group is currently situated in the city’s inner-city conservation area, Castlefield.

The injunction, which was due to take place today but has been adjourned until 26 July, follows a series of eviction orders from the council, after Town Hall members said that the camp was responsible for anti-social behaviour.

Ben Taylor, a founding partner of WTB Solicitors, who is representing the group said that the proceedings were “premature” and “oppressive.”

Speaking to The Independent, Mr Taylor said: “Manchester Council want these homeless people to be evicted with an injunction which would prevent them entering and putting up tents on Manchester City land.”

"If they fail to meet this injunction it could mean that they could go to prison for 2 years or face a fine of £5000. It is a city-wide injunction consequence is oppressive, unsympathetic and premature because it would mean that these homeless people have nowhere else to sleep.”

He suggested that Manchester council were moving on the campaigners because they were “fed up with them”. He also said that the council had made no contingencies for the homeless people if the injunction was passed.

A Manchester council spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: “We are applying for an injunction following more than 10 weeks of disruption to residents and businesses caused by people on these camps, as well as anti-social behaviour which has included the burning of bonfires, vandalism, street drinking and the intimidation of members of the public."

“This injunction will be there to stop the creation of camps, and it is inaccurate and misleading to claim that we are setting out to criminalise individual homeless people who are sleeping rough.”

Manchester citizens wrote an open letter to the council following the homeless group’s first eviction saying: “We urge the Councillors to cease from pursuing further legal challenges and to engage in a constructive dialogue with the protesters in an effort to meet their demands.”

“We echo the statement made by His Honourable Judge Allan Gore, QC; that it is an affront to our society that people are being forced to sleep on the streets. As concerned citizens of Manchester with a desire to see that people are treated with dignity and respect, we throw our support behind the protesters.”

A Manchester council spokesman told the Manchester Evening News: “We are applying for an injunction following more than 10 weeks of disruption to residents and businesses caused by people on these camps, as well as anti-social behaviour which has included the burning of bonfires, vandalism, street drinking and the intimidation of members of the public."

“This injunction will be there to stop the creation of camps, and it is inaccurate and misleading to claim that we are setting out to criminalise individual homeless people who are sleeping rough.”

Manchester citizens wrote an open letter to the council following the homeless group’s first eviction saying: “We urge the councillors to cease from pursuing further legal challenges and to engage in a constructive dialogue with the protesters in an effort to meet their demands.”

“We echo the statement made by His Honourable Judge Allan Gore, QC; that it is an affront to our society that people are being forced to sleep on the streets. As concerned citizens of Manchester with a desire to see that people are treated with dignity and respect, we throw our support behind the protesters.”

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