Published: 08:00, 14 June 2014
A town councillor has today apologised for causing offence after claiming a man selling copies of the Big Issue should not take up space on a bench outside Waitrose.
Cllr Sue Ferguson posted her views about the registered magazine seller sitting outside the Tenterden supermarket on Twitter on Thursday.
Her message received a social media backlash, with users criticising her for discriminating against the “homeless” man.
The tweet, directed to the Waitrose team, said: “I don’t think your new bench outside Tenterden should be used by Big Issue seller, means we can’t use it."
But a Waitrose spokesman told KentOnline: “It is a public bench and anyone is welcome to sit there.”
Cllr Ferguson’s post was met with several responses on Twitter from people stunned by her comment.
One user, called Stella, said: "Shame on you. I’d say a homeless person needs it more, not having a home and that..."
Georgina Chapman said: "Sue are you for real? And what makes you so sure he wouldn't stand up if others needed it?"
Fellow Twitter user James Alexander posted: "I don't think anyone has exclusive use of a public bench, do they?"
The town councillor has now apologised for the post and insists her tweet was not discriminating against the homeless or Big Issue sellers.
Cllr Ferguson, who has since deleted the post, said: “I appreciate that I have upset some people with my comment on the Big Issue seller outside Waitrose.
“That was not my intention, and I can only apologise for giving offence.
“I simply wanted to make the point that we have many elderly people in the town, and that they should have priority in using the bench.
“Big Issue sellers deserve our support, and I was not intending to suggest otherwise.”
Cllr Ferguson - south ward member for Tenterden - added that since she posted the tweet a hate campaign has been launched against her, forcing her to make her Twitter page private.
She added: “I have received some serious abuse. I have reported the user to Twitter.”
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