A Ukip councillor in Portsmouth has demanded the removal of homeless people from the city’s streets, describing them as “vagrants” who “are beginning to dominate” the city.
Councillor Colin Galloway called for police to “clean up” the “unwelcome detritus” in order to “save” the city, saying they must be “placed in specific care whether they want to or not”.
The councillor’s comments, which are contained in a motion due to be debated at a Portsmouth City Council meeting on 11 July, come as the number of rough sleepers in the city increased from eight in 2014 to 60 as of May.
The motion claims Portsmouth “is no longer a welcoming city to either business or tourist because it seems we prefer to have vagrants,” and urges for a move away from taking a “soft approach” to instead showing “serious tough love”.
“Sometimes it is not necessary to read the national newspapers to discover the truth. Sometimes it is right under our very noses,” Cllr Galloway said.
“To say that homelessness has increased fivefold since two years ago is patently obvious with a cursory walk around our own city. Every day there are at least four or five beggars – yes beggars, note I didn’t say homeless, who position themselves in shop doorways in Commercial Road precinct.
He continued: “Walk down that same precinct at night and you will see a lot more taking up temporary residence in their preferred doorways. Portsmouth city is no longer a welcoming city to either business or tourist because it seems we prefer to have vagrants.”
“It is time to get our police and crime commissioner to put pressure on his police force to help us clean up this unwelcome detritus. These beggars, vagrants, rough sleepers, homeless, troubled folks or whatever label you want to put on them must be removed from our city and placed in specific care whether they want to or not.
“We have tried the soft approach and have found it wanting. It’s time for some serious tough love. We need to save our city and we need to save these lost souls.”
Former Ukip member Councillor Paul Godier, who is now an independent councillor, disagreed with the hard-line approach towards the city’s homeless population, saying: “The approach must be very soft, it must be compassionate.
“We’re dealing with, in the majority of cases, broken adults, people who have not faith in local authority […] I think [Mr Galloway] needs to sit down and be educated on their complex needs."
It is not the first time a Ukip representative has called for tougher action against homeless people. In March Ukip’s Brexit spokesman Gerard Batten called for homeless EU citizens to be sent back to their country of origin.
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