Tuesday, 10 June 2014

"Homeless Spikes" - The Real Answer

Boris Johnson leaps into the fray over the spikes to keep homeless people from sleeping in an alcove outside some Southwark apartments. According to the Guardian, he tweeted:

"Spikes outside Southwark housing development to deter rough sleeping are ugly, self defeating & stupid. Developer should remove them ASAP."

I agree. The developer could put a little bike storage shed in that space. Much more effective, and nobody could complain. Nothing inhumane or ugly about a bike shed. And, as a cyclist himself, I'm sure Boris would approve.

See, I can understand the reason they did it. A resident of that development coming home late at night, knowing that a potentially large, potentially drunk, person is lurking in that space by my front door. I can understand that you may feel you'd rather not do your bit for the vulnerable and homeless in London in that precise way.

If only, I find myself thinking, there was something more that could be done for all the people without homes in London. If only there was somebody who had the responsibility and authority to speak and act across the whole city for the common good. Because nobody wants others to be on the stones, but few want unknown people lurking in their doorways. If only there was someone who had the job of ensuring action so the city as a whole looked after homeless people better, and who didn't talk like alcoves without spikes was a strategy for homelessness.

If only, I can't help thinking, London had some kind of a mayor. Perhaps Boris could suggest a candidate?

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