Council spends £30,000 on gates to stop homeless camping outside its offices

A council has been slammed after splashing out £30,000 on gates outside offices to deter rough sleepers.

Wrexham County Borough Council  bosses claim they put up the black metal gates at its Guildhall HQ and offices after complaints about anti-social behaviour from the public.

But "shocked"  campaigners from homeless charity Shelter said the money should have been spent helping the homeless not stigmatising them.

A Shelter Cymru spokesman said: “Shelter Cymru believes that you cannot “design out homelessness" .

"The use of hostile architecture in certain spaces chimes with a wider intolerance of people sleeping rough. It sends a message to people who are vulnerable and in desperate situations that they are not wanted. At the most all it achieves is to push a visible issue out of sight.

"We believe that everyone is entitled to a safe, secure and affordable home.

"The resources spent on designing, installing and maintaining these barriers would be better spent on addressing the root causes of homelessness to prevent it from occurring in the first place; and ensuring that where it does occur, meaningful solutions are on offer."

The Wrexham Homeless group has also reacted with fury to the council's decision.

A spokesman said he was "shocked" by the move, adding: "Wouldn't it be better spent tackling the issues instead of putting up gates.

He said: "l am sure the £30,000 could be better spent by facing the issues and dealing with them in the correct manner."

"Other towns have done similar things and all it does is move the problem to another areas and make it very unsafe for vulnerable people exposing them to attacks. 

"Many street people are vulnerable and congregate in such areas because they are well lit and busy through the night .

"Erecting gates will make these people even more vulnerable, removing shelter and a place of relative safety. It is very unfortunate that Wrexham council chooses to spend this amount of money in this way.

"That could go towards some emergency accommodation or supporting street people in an empty building over the winter, of which Wrexham has many."

But a Wrexham resident said: "Its about time. They have put them there to stop the homeless sleeping there.

"I have seen all kinds of mess outside the building including human faeces, it was disgusting.

"It looks a lot better now and I don't have concerns about the cost, it had to be done."

Despite the fierce criticism the council has defended its decision.

Ian Bancroft, chief executive of the council said: "The issue of installing fencing was due to a specific problem of rough sleepers and was taken forward as a result of complaints from the public due to anti-social behaviour and the issue of risk to staff and public.

"This work has been done alongside the actions taken to support individuals into sustainable housing solutions."

Wrexham is still struggling with a homeless problem and has the highest number of homeless deaths in Wales.

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