‘Largest ever petition’ to be handed in to York council

The floor of the York Guildhall, where the petition will be handed in tonight. Photograph © Allan Harris on Flickr
16 Jul 2015 @ 12.41 pm
| News

Campaigners against the ‘anti-homeless’ bars installed on York benches are to deliver what they believe is the largest ever petition to York councillors on Thursday (July 16).

With six hours to go before the full council meeting, the e-petition had topped 5,400 signatures.

That compares to 1,494 signatures collected against the closure of Lendal Bridge.

As first revealed on YorkMix, the bars have been added to benches at various locations in York – including Rougier Street, opposite the train station and outside the art gallery.

Petitioners are demanding the removal of the bars – needed, City of York Council says, to curb anti-social behaviour.

Big York Sleep-in

Richard Bridge, who started the petition, said:

The petition goes far further than a few bars on some benches.

If we fail to acknowledge the true intent and symbolism of these bars, we succumb to an attitude that makes our street environment deliberately hostile to homeless people who want to rest as well as elderly, infirm and pregnant women.

A protest has been arranged ahead of the petition handover, in conjunction with York People’s Assembly.

The ‘Big York Sleep-in’ will see people bring blankets and sleeping bags to send a message of inclusion and solidarity with rough sleepers and more generally people who find themselves homeless.

It all takes place at 5.30pm in St Helen’s Square.

A man asleep under the new bars installed on a bench at a Rougier Street bus stop. Photograph: Jack Gevertz
A man asleep under the new bars installed on a bench at a Rougier Street bus stop. Photograph: Jack Gevertz

When we talk about homeless people, we are talking about someone’s son or daughter and that none of us are immune
Richard Bridge

Richard Bridge

Richard said Britain needed to change its approach to the homelessness problem.

Crisis and the Joseph Rowntree Foundation’s research says that the UK’s homeless numbers have increased by a third since 2010 with benefit sanctions cited as the main reason.

When as a society we are intentionally coercive and unkind to the most vulnerable we should surely remember, when we talk about homeless people, we are talking about someone’s son or daughter and that none of us are immune to a bereavement, a sudden relationship breakup, a financial crisis or an even more sudden breakdown.

York should not breed hardness and isolation.