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People living in St George's church graveyard in Ramsgate is 'disrespectful'

By Katie Davis

Homeless people draping washing over gravestones have been branded “disrespectful” by dog walkers and churchgoers alike.

A number of rough sleepers have pitched tents in St George’s church graveyard in Ramsgate.

Neighbours say they are at their “wits end” with the disruption caused, which is said to include late-night music. But the Diocese of Canterbury says permission has been given for the rough sleepers to use the site on a “temporary” basis.

Spokesman Anna Drew said: “For a while, we have provided a relatively safe haven for a small number of rough sleepers who have been camping in our churchyard.

"This was only ever intended to be a temporary measure, and we are aware that there have been a number of problems with the behaviour of these individuals.

"We take this matter very seriously and are working with Thanet council and police to ensure a rehousing of those camping in St George’s churchyard.

People have been living at the St George's church site for weeks (5168307)
People have been living at the St George's church site for weeks (5168307)

"We are grateful for the public’s support in this process.”

Police say they are aware of issues, but that it is a matter for the landowner. The council says while they know people are camping at the church, they have not received any “specific reports” of anti-social behaviour.

Rough sleepers in the churchyard (5168337)
Rough sleepers in the churchyard (5168337)

A spokesman said: “Churchyards are private land and not under the ownership or control of the council. The council’s community safety team along with local PCSOs have visited the location along with the Rise team which is dedicated to helping people in the district who are rough sleeping.”

Video: Homeless man, Mark Mckeown, speaks about sleeping at the church

But Adam Dodman, who lives near to the church, says the situation has been going on “for too long”.

“It started off as just one person, but now it has got out of hand,” he said. “There have been up to about eight people sleeping in tents in the churchyard, and there’s been washing draped over graves and loud music. There is human faeces in the graveyard too - it is disgusting. No one seems to be doing anything about it. People have been put off walking their dogs through there as they feel intimidated.

“It is all very uncomfortable.”

This was reported in the same week that a family were forced to live on a beach in Margate after being without a home for three months.

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