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Petition calls for Medway Council to do more to help the homeless after deaths of two men

Medway Council should do more to help the homeless after the deaths of two men, demands a petition that has been signed by more than 1,500 people in under a week.

The campaign was set up after the deaths of Michael McCluskey, who was found dead in Chatham High Street on Christmas Eve and a man, who has been named locally as Greg, who was found near the entrance to a car park in Solomons Road, Chatham, five days later.

A number of voluntary groups across the Towns have been providing food and warm clothing to homeless people sleeping rough in Medway but campaigners argue Medway Council should be doing more.

Chas Berry
Chas Berry

Medway Justice for Homeless was set up after the death of Samson Paine, who died in a tent in the centre of Chatham in June. The group urging more people to sign the petition.

Chas Berry, from the organisation, said: “There are at least two petitions with our demands for emergency shelters and an end to the harassment of rough sleepers currently in circulation.

“These can be presented to the council at any time but it won’t stimulate an automatic debate or change of policy unless we can get at least 12,675 local people to sign them which is an extremely tall order.”

Tony Boardman, from Rochester, was among the petition signatories and wrote: “It’s sick that in this day and age there are people who have more money and assets than they could begin to spend and there are people who the system has spat out and are forced to live like animals. Nobody should be ignored and treated this way.”

Christina Kinsey, from Hoo, wrote: “It’s a disgrace to see people sleeping rough in a rich country like ours.

Councillor Howard Doe
Councillor Howard Doe

“What about all that empty space above the Pentagon Centre can’t that be used for flats/bedsits for homeless people?”

Janet Dyzart, from Chattenden, said: “Our views on people who live on the street need to change. For many there is no choice and help must be made available.”

Cllr Howard Doe, Medway Council’s head of housing who is also responsible for rough sleepers, said: “Frankly we are already doing what we have the funds to do. We are already stretched for funding and there’s no more that we can afford to do, as much as we would like to.

“The idea that one can have an infinite amount of spaces for people is just ludicrous. We have already overspent.”

The petition is due to be handed in at the full council meeting on January 26.

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