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Scottish Charity Register No. SC043760

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The law of the streets - two responses

May 22 2009
A Westminster councillor denies that hot-washing is anything at all to do with rough sleeping, and a formerly homeless reader disagrees very strongly! Dear Sir, I would like to reassure your readers that Westminster City Council has not adopted hot washing to tackle rough sleeping in the city. (Issue 34, ‚Äö?Ñ??The Law of the Streets‚Äö?Ñ?¥) This cleansing procedure is part of the Council‚Äö?Ñ?¥s work to keep the city‚Äö?Ñ?¥s streets clean, and we carry out this necessary work sensitively and with the co-operation of rough sleepers themselves, whose welfare is, obviously, paramount. We carry out a tremendous amount of positive work with a number of highly respected charitable organisations, and we treat all those unfortunate to be sleeping rough with dignity and respect at all times. Residents rightly expect the streets to be cleaned and any debris that could pose either a security or health risk to be removed. We have strict procedures and where rough sleepers may be affected, members of the rough sleeping team are present and able to offer assistance. Before any hot washing takes place to clean the streets, all rough sleepers are informed and asked to remove any possessions from the site. I would also like to add that there isn‚Äö?Ñ?¥t a need for anyone to be sleeping rough on the streets of Westminster as we have an extensive network of day centres, night centres and hostels, which can accommodate those who would otherwise find themselves on the streets. In the last year, we have helped 750 people off the street and into accommodation. Cllr Philippa Roe Westminster City Council Cabinet Member for Housing Dear Sir, I‚Äö?Ñ?¥ve come across the move-on policy and the wetting-down many times over the last 12 years, and it seems to me it‚Äö?Ñ?¥s about time we fought back. Homeless organisations do not seem to be doing enough; in fact, they always seem to be very quiet when this sort of thing goes on. And why does Westminster Council seem to believe that there are enough hostel places for everyone when there clearly are not and never have been? Perhaps we should all get together one night and join the protesters across from the Houses of Parliament who have parked their tents on a public pavement and who are left alone by the police and government because it is against their basic human rights to be moved. We could have banners protesting about the move-on policy. Let‚Äö?Ñ?¥s see how Westminster Council would like that because - if you think about it - it seems to be your basic human right to protest against the war but not to have somewhere to live or sleep. I‚Äö?Ñ?¥m no longer on the streets, but I would be willing to sleep out and protest. It‚Äö?Ñ?¥s time we did something because if we don‚Äö?Ñ?¥t, no one else will. Ian Wells
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