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Homeless in Canterbury slapped with 'heartless' court threat by city council

People living on the city's streets have been slapped with council notices ordering them to pack up and move - or face having their belongings confiscated and destroyed.

Now the Canterbury authority is accused of being "heartless" to the homeless after a picture of the order was posted on social media, sparking an angry reaction.

The blunt court notice left for the homeless
The blunt court notice left for the homeless

The issue was flagged up on the Canterbury Residents' Group Facebook page by one contributor who said: "I find this quite upsetting - the threat of taking a homeless person to court or have their possessions destroyed.

"Where is she or he supposed to go? Shame on you Canterbury City Council."

Others called the notice secured to a camp in St Margaret's Street "disgusting" and "criminalising the homeless".

But one contributor said Canterbury had become a "magnet for the homeless".

The existing notice says the tent/camp is on private land and the owner must 'leave at once'.

A rough sleeper
A rough sleeper

It further reads: "Court proceedings will start unless you have gone with 24 hours of receiving this notice otherwise the tent and all other items will be removed and destroyed."

The notice goes on further to provide contact details for homeless charities Catching Lives and Porchlight.

Now the authority has admitted the wording is "quite harsh" and says it will re-draft the orders more sympathetically.

And they plan to add further explanation about what the council is doing for the homeless.

But it is not flinching from its efforts to remove tents and camps from the street scene.

Council spokesman Leo Whitlock said: "Tents on the streets and makeshift camps are unsafe for people to live in and act as a barrier to vulnerable people accessing support services.

"Those who live in them experience violence, sexual assault, theft of belongings, bullying and exploitation.

"Tackling rough sleeping is a priority for us, and since July 2018 we have successfully taken 198 rough sleepers off the streets and into permanent accommodation. Just last week, we secured government funding of £1 million to continue this work in 2020/21.

"Staff from the council and our partner organisations Catching Lives and Porchlight are out on the streets every day, speaking with rough sleepers, helping them access medical support and ultimately securing them the housing they need.

"We would always want to work with individuals in this position to get them out of their tent for good.

"We understand why some people were concerned about the notice placed on the tent and accept the wording is quite harsh. This is something we intend to rectify very quickly."

Read more: All the latest news from Canterbury

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