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Tent protestors face jail

September 08 2015
A court in Manchester has issued a list of things homeless people can legally sleep in, including cardboard boxes

Seven people in Manchester could be facing prison for camping out in the city centre to highlight the City Council’s homelessness policy.

Last month, a court in Manchester ruled that homeless people are forbidden from sleeping in tents – and has issued a list of things they can legally sleep in, including cardboard boxes.

Now the city council has issued proceedings against those who have flouted the ban, with anyone found guilty facing up to two years in prison or a ú5,000 fine.

The ruling, dubbed ‘inhumane’, bans people from erecting or living in tents “or other movable temporary forms of accommodation” in the city centre without permission.

The injunction, granted to Manchester Council at the beginning of August, says that homeless people can use sleeping bags, blankets, cardboard boxes, benches, doorways and bus shelters as well as hostels and overnight charity accommodation, the Manchester Evening News reports.

It is part of an attempt by the town hall to stop a camp set up to protest about a lack of temporary housing in the city. The camp has been repeatedly moved from site to site in the city for several months.

The judgement is intended to apply to the protesters, and lists the kinds of shelter are exempt so that homeless people who are not involved in the protest do not get prosecuted.

But solicitor Ben Taylor, who was acting on behalf of protest camp members, said drawing up the list was ‘inhumane and barbaric’.

The town hall has already evicted protestors from two public squares in an operation said to have cost over ú100,000.

Protester Wesley Dove claimed the council objected to its homeless policy being highlighted in such a central area as “they don’t want people to see”.

He said: “Why should they be hidden in doorways, why should they be hidden in car parks? They deserve looking after, they deserve a house. So I’m here to fight them, to try make a change.”

Nigel Murphy, Manchester council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, said: “We have always been very clear that our attempts to close the camps are not aimed at cracking down on lawful protests or in criminalising homeless people.”

A protest is now being planned in London on Saturday, 5 September at 6pm. Tents4Homeless plan to gather in Trafalgar Square with tents, before marching through the streets. Tents will be distributed to homeless people.