Oxford City's Councils stance on homeless people
The Oxford City Council has threatened rough sleepers with fines up to £2,500. Many homeless people in the area have found legal notices pinned to their bags stating that their presence was having a damaging effect on the quality of life of others in the area. These notices explain that those targeted are breaching antisocial behaviour laws and that the recipients must remove their possessions within 2 days or they will be faced with a fine.
However, this act has received criticism from the likes of former county councillor, Larry Sanders (brother of former US Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders) who argues that vulnerable people are not bettered by fines and harassment, and that if anything were to help it would be "thoughtful kindness". Sanders believes the real underlying issue is government cuts and the housing crisis, not the homeless people themselves.
David Thomas, leader of Oxford city council's Green group and Green Party Councillor describes the legal notices left by the council as an incorrect use of antisocial behaviour legislation. He explains how Oxford City do not have their priorities straight, since they are refusing to re-open a 50-bed hostel in the city centre whilst trying to force the homeless off the street.
Oxford City Council responded to this criticism via its Twitter account, claiming that bags had been left outside blocking fire escape doors which was dangerous and a risk to those inside. They also added that they work closely with homelessness charities to help rough sleepers in Oxford and donate £1.4m a year to fund a range of support services.
Those who are living on the streets of Oxford have explained that they have had their possessions confiscated by the council, and much of this were items that the public had donated to them. Oxford City Council have argued that there is no need for bags and possessions to be cluttering the streets when there are lockers provided for the homeless to use. However, one homeless man from Oxford said that the lockers were not big enough and that the city needs a good storage system for things to start getting better.
Despite the Council's claims. Oxford still has the highest number of rough sleepers outside of London, and there have been a number of strikes and campaigns in the city over the last decade to try and persuade the council to abandon their plans to abort all of those living on the streets.