Anger at ‘anti-homeless’ bars installed on York benches

A man sleeps under the bars installed on a bench at a Rougier Street bus stop. Photograph: Jack Gevertz / YorkMix

‘Anti-homeless’ bars installed on benches in York have been branded “disgusting” and “sickening”.

Officials from the City of York Council took the decision to attach six metal bars to the two benches at the bus stop on Rougier Street after complaints were made about anti-social behaviour.

But the bars, which were put in place last week, have attracted anger from local residents and a nationwide charity for being seen to be ‘anti-homeless’.

Charlie Hind, 19, from Fishergate, called the move “disgusting”.

He’s been using the buses from the stop for the past three years to get to college, but had an “eye-roll moment” when he saw the bars attached to the benches on Monday morning (June 22).

He said:

I know the main priority in designing bus shelters has become stopping people from sleeping in them, but this is different. The council have gone out of their way to get these bars added to the bench.

I would like the council to remove them immediately and spend the money that would be saved by not placing bars like this in other places on shelters and programmes helping to tackle the homelessness problem in York, which has only grown in the last five years as more and more vulnerable people are having their benefits sanctioned.

After he posted about it on Facebook, Caitlynn Eckhardt called for direct action:

People need to take matters into their own hands and forcefully remove them… sickening

‘We are all human beings’

Yasmin Metcalfe, 18, from Clifton Moor, said that she was “extremely angry and upset” at the bars. She told YorkMix:

At the end of the day, we are all human beings regardless of our situations and in this day and age we all deserve the right to shelter and food at least.

I would like York council to realise they should really try and invest money on shelters and getting people help, instead of these ridiculous and upsetting attempts to make vulnerable people’s lives that bit harder.

Callum Shannon, 20, from Osbaldwick, added that he thought the situation was “deeply saddening”:

Instead of trying to tackle York’s housing crisis by building more affordable housing or by supporting departments within City of York Council – such as YorHome who do an excellent job creating sustainable tenancies in the private sector for people at risk of homelessness – the new administration has chosen to make things even harder for people who are already without a home.

It’s not only terrible, it won’t solve the problem.

‘This isn’t the answer’

A spokesperson for Crisis, a charity for single homeless people, said the situation was “all too common”. Jon Sparkes, the chief executive, said:

People in desperate circumstances deserve better than to be treated as a nuisance – they may have suffered a relationship breakdown, a bereavement or domestic abuse.

Turning our streets into hostile places for rough sleepers isn’t the answer. Instead we must deal with the causes.

The real issue here is the substantial rise in homelessness in recent years.

We desperately need more affordable homes as well as political action to fix our broken private rented sector. At the same time, we must have a safety net that genuinely reflects the reality of renting.

‘Deterring anti-social behaviour’

The new arms on the benches on Rougier Street. Photograph: Charlie Hind
The new arms on the benches on Rougier Street. Photograph: Charlie Hind
The benches last year without the arms. Photograph © Google Street View
The benches last year without the arms. Photograph © Google Street View

Similar bars have already been installed inside the half-timbered shelter at the railway station, but on the advice of officials in the council’s transport team, the decision was taken to add more bars on the bus stop outside Rougier Street.

A spokesperson for the council said:

We have received complaints about anti social behaviour in this area and having consulted about these problems we were advised that the most appropriate action was either to remove the benches entirely or fit them with arms.

Removing the benches would have an affect on all users of the passenger shelter, so the action taken was to put arms on the benches/ bars underneath them.

The aim of introducing these measures was about deterring recurrent anti-social behaviour by people who collect in this location.

Separately and through the ASB Hub we are taking a multi-agency approach to ensure that we are engaging with rough sleepers and are able to offer the support people need, whether that be in terms of finding accommodation or health provision.

25 thoughts on “Anger at ‘anti-homeless’ bars installed on York benches

  1. They are not homeless they are just drunks that are abusive to bus passengers they smoke in a no smoking zone and if your dare say anything to them they tell you where to go they even per against the wall when people are around
    They only sleep in the bench when had too much to drink
    You do Gooders need to live in the real world

  2. Out of interest, which political party decided on this? Given the slow pace at which councils tend to move, wouldn’t it have been decided under the previous Labour administration? In which case Richard Bridge might want a discussion with his Party colleagues!

  3. Right so let me see if I see the whole picture.
    Cyc sell off social housin
    Cyc dont replace social
    Cyc stop needy from been able to sleep on street dispite no houses for them
    What next cyc give rat poison burgers for homeless and jobless?

  4. They don’t want support, all they want is their daily handouts so they can make this place an unpleasant place to be. This is one of the main areas tourists get off the buses and they are faced with pissed up louts, pissing on the bench, on the floor. Smoking and drinking, fighting and causing problems! You tree huggers need your heads testing! If you feel so strongly, invite them to come share your houses!

  5. What goes through the minds of the people who do this?
    ‘If we stop them sleeping on park benches they’ll all get jobs and buy a house’
    If you’re on the street life has already become pretty desperate and you need society to give you a helping hand not a slap in the face.

  6. There is nothing disgusting or cruel or any of the of the ridicules diatribe being spouted on the comments and in the article. Every single person who is homeless on the streets of York have been offered help through the council, through charities such as the Salvation Army and yes even Crisis. I read things like we are all human beings and that we shouldn’t discriminate against the homeless and we shouldn’t, but what about the hundreds, Yes hundreds off people who use those bus stops each day. These people include young children and older people who should not have to see this male who is an alcoholic, in such a state. He regularly wets himself and vomits and he associates with other street drinkers, who are abusive towards each other and to other people. The small about of money paid to carry out the work would have not made any difference in changing the life of a homeless person, but it may make the lives of thousands of people better each year if they reduce the number of abusive and violent street drinkers who sit on those benches. I think that Charlie Hind has had his eyes closed for the last three year’s every time he has been in that bus station. I have personally seen the male in this picture in the same state along with others and on numerous occasionsI have seen the abuse that they hurl at the police, when someone inevitably calls. As a great man once said, “The needs of the many, out weigh the needs of the one or the few”.

    1. Agreed. “Disgusting,” “Vile,” “Sickening” are hardly words I would use to describe the council putting arm rests on benches as an anti-social measure. Heaven forbid the council want a safe and clean environment for their public transport users.
      Ask yourself, would you want your teenage son or daughter waiting at this bus stop in an evening with alcoholic homeless people there?

  7. Yea I think they should get rid of these bars and put pillows and duvets for them to sleep under in the middle of the day whilst the rest of us have to work.

  8. The bus shelters on Rougier Street had become home to day time street drinkers and were so unpleasant that I and many other bus users I have spoken to were forced to use alternative stops. yes these people need to be helped but the council need to make this a safe environment for all

  9. It’s not as simple as giving help. These guys choose to live like they do. They will always be there. They are harmless also .in fact them bars do stop them falling onto the pavement so it is kinda help

  10. This is disgusting. They need support to get their lives straight and find a safe place to live. Absolutely disgusted to be living in a city that condemns instead of supports.

    1. That is a ridiculous comment, just because it’s 2015 that is not to say homelessness shouldn’t be a problem and that it should be solved. There will always be people needing help and we are responsible for helping them as our duty to our fellow human

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