Published: 16:43, 14 October 2020
| Updated: 10:23, 15 October 2020
A council accused of a "lack of compassion" after clearing a makeshift sleeping area have revealed the homeless people living there have been housed.
Ramsgate Mayor Raushan Ara - whose photos of the newly-tidied harbour area prompted widespread concern for those who previously slept there - assured "everybody's being looked after".
Cllr Ara took to Facebook to share pictures from before and after the council's clean-up of Ramsgate pier.
One shows an assortment of bedding - pillows, blankets, and a mattress clearly left there by homeless people - in a sheltered area beneath the town's lighthouse. Another shows the same area after the items had been cleared away.
Cllr Ara thanked Thanet District Council "for making the pier look so neat and tidy, as well as removing the bedding from underneath the lighthouse".
"It is important that our harbour is kept clean and attractive," she added. "Let's hope that it can stay like that."
But her post prompted outrage from those concerned about the welfare of the rough sleepers.
Helen Banyard wrote: "The poor people who have just lost their bedding.
"I think this action is disgraceful and displays a total lack of compassion, particularly in these difficult times when we should be looking out for those people less fortunate than ourselves, rather than worrying about the appearance of the harbour."
Another woman added: "As someone who was once homeless, I really hope that bedding was washed given back to a homeless charity.
"I feel for those who will go back tonight to find their only bedding gone. Because from experience, it's horrible!"
One resident offered sleeping bags to those whose belongings had been removed, while others speculated that rough sleepers could now be forced to go without bedding in "freezing" weather conditions.
But Thanet District Council has confirmed the two people that were sleeping beneath the lighthouse have both been housed in supported accommodation by the authority's Rough Sleepers Intervention Support and Empowerment (RISE) team.
A spokesman added: "They took with them all of the personal possessions that they wanted."
Cllr Ara said that the pair had not been sleeping at the camp for several weeks, when the items were removed.
"Everybody's been looked after - it's for their best," she said.
"We are always giving them sleeping bags and tents and things like that. I myself always have blankets and things to give to them if they come to me.
"Those beddings were in a bad condition anyway. It is for their good because winter is coming."