Update on benches

Posted on Monday 5th February 2018

Following extensive feedback from the public and on social media, the Council today reviewed its decision on the issue of the bars on the benches in the town centre and agreed they would be removed in the next few days.

You can watch the removal of the bars here

Councillor Robert Lawton said: “The decision last summer to install the bars on a very small number of benches in key select locations in the town centre was made by a multi agency operational group, chaired by the Council and attended by the Police, Rough Sleeper Team and the Town Centre BiD. The decision was taken in response to many complaints about people lying on them throughout the day, meaning that wider members of the community were unable to use them to sit on.

“However we have listened to the extensive feedback over the last week and in light of the depth of feeling, have today reviewed that decision and agreed to have the bars removed.

“Homelessness prevention and support is a significant and growing issue nationally and the Council continues to maintain that as a society we should be aiming far higher than a bench for people to sleep on. That is why the Council spends almost £10 million each year in Bournemouth supporting vulnerable members of our community who are homeless or at risk of homelessness, to help avoid them becoming roofless.

“The Council receives almost 1,000 enquiries each and every month from people stating they are worried about housing or homelessness.  The range of support provided by the Council is wide reaching including offering rent deposit loans, numerous dedicated supported housing hostels, teams of housing support workers in the community, mental health support plus much more.

“However, despite these preventative services, there is still a small number of people who sadly still end up sleeping on the streets despite efforts to deliver support and advice services before this point is reached. Our rough sleeper outreach services are out 6 days a week to build trust with people sleeping rough in the town and each month around 15 people are helped into long term accommodation. This work has been in place for many years and will continue to be a key priority for the Council.

“The recent media serves as a reminder that the issues of homelessness sadly continue to increase. We have always remained committed across our many teams in Bournemouth to prevent homelessness for people and will continue to do so going forward.”