00:20 GMT +313 December 2018
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    Jon Gaunt
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    So, if the UK is the fifth largest economy in the world, can someone please explain why we have so many homeless on the streets.

    If the UK can afford and even ring fence foreign aid by £12.5 BILLION a year can someone please explain why we have so many homeless on the streets.

    If the UK can afford to hand over £39 BILLION to the EU in a divorce settlement can someone please explain why we have so many homeless on the streets.

    If the British High Street is dead with thousands of empty shops can someone explain why we have so many homeless on the streets.

    If we really respect and think we have the best armed forces in the world can someone please explain why we have so many ex-service people on the streets.

    Is that enough for you, or do you want a personal story to really hammer home the point?

    Last night I was sickened by the actions of Stratford-Upon-Avon District Council who have erected and chained down barriers in the entrance to their main car park exactly where a young lad usually sleeps.

    READ MORE: UK Shadow Chancellor Wants to Overthrow Capitalism, 'Transform' Economy

    This morning I asked the Council why. Their answer, when they finally gave it to me, was exactly what I had feared: this act of barbarity was to stop this lad sleeping there.

    I go to Stratford maybe four of five times a week and park in this car park. Every time there have been a couple of guys with their dogs sleeping or just sitting by the pay machine. I have never witnessed either of these lads being aggressive, in fact quite the opposite they often help people at the machine who don't understand (nor do I) how the number recognition payment system works. These lads show people what to do and then they do not even hold out their hand for a tip, although many people do drop some coins in their coffee cup. They are in effect performing a public service.

    These lads only moved to sit by the pay machine when last year the "caring council" removed the doors of the stairwells of the car park to stop the lads sleeping there, where they could keep out of the cold wind.

    That was bad enough, but now this disgusting District Council have gone too far and they need to condemned for their actions.

    This steel barrier, drilled securely to the floor with shiny new bolts, chains and padlocks, leaves no room for the lads to bed down in this last remaining sheltered spot in the car park. As a result, the homeless were no-where to be seen last night.

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    How ironic that just up the road the greatest theatre company in the UK (and probably the world) the RSC, is performing A Christmas Carol to a packed house. The chains the council have used are eerily reminiscent of those of Jacob Marley's Ghost and this barbaric action against the homeless is reminiscent of Christmas past and an attitude towards those that live on the streets that should have been consigned to the pages of a Dickens novel.

    What makes this act even more despicable is the ‘coincidence' of the Council taking this action against the homeless in the same week that they are clearly spending thousands on a Victorian Christmas Market in the town to promote shopping and tourism.

    As Lisa and I walked back to the car park last night through the blocked off streets where the Council was erecting structures more fitting with the festive cheer of the season, aka market stalls, we looked out for the lads. Lisa often takes the food that is going off and being given out for free at the end of the day at the RSC to give to the lads in the car park and another dreadlocked lad who plays tunes on a battered guitar just outside of the theatre. He wasn't there last night, and the lads from the car park were nowhere to be seen either.

    I began to wonder if the council had adopted a zero-tolerance New York style clean up and swept all the homeless off the genteel streets of Stratford. The streets were empty all but for a number of security guards that the Council had installed to guard the empty market stalls! After getting in the car we drove round the rest of the town looking for the lads, but we could not find them…

    I tweeted out photos of the barrier last night and I have spent most of this morning trying to get a response from the Council.

    Forget Dickens I felt like I was trapped in a Kafka novel as I was passed from person to person to get a comment. Everyone I spoke to knew what I was talking about and even knew the lads I was describing. Eventually, I was passed on to the Corporate Communications team who I had earlier been told were not working today, which of course was BS as they had this huge Victorian event on in the town! This woman said they were working on a response however she then proceeded to tell me just how difficult it is to work with these people and also suggested they were aggressive beggars, which beggared belief, as I have only ever seen these guys entertaining people, helping people or lying on the cold car park floor without the strength to get up let alone be aggressive. In effect, she was victim blaming and shaming and I told her in no uncertain terms that I would not accept her nonsense, without seeing police reports. It was the same nonsense the Council then peddled out in statement, again without any concrete proof or reports.

    READ MORE: Psychotherapist on Homelesness in UK: 'There's so Much that Needs to Be Done'

    To be fair I know this is a complex problem, but no matter what difficulties the situation presents it is not the correct response for a responsible Council to act in such an aggressive manner. Nothing justifies the erection of this barrier.

    These kinds of bullying tactics were used by Bournemouth Council back in 2015 when they blasted out loud music to deter rough sleepers near their railway station. They were rightly condemned for this action.

    Then there have been numerous incidents of shops and office buildings putting out spikes in their entrances to deter the homeless. Last year metal spikes designed to prevent homeless people from sleeping on the ground were placed outside a building in Manchester city centre. The council condemned the "demeaning" devices at Pall Mall Court, which lies in a semi-sheltered area in the city and they were right to do so. 

    So that brings me to my final question, can someone please explain why councils feel they can treat the homeless as if they are subhuman and that they can issue mealy-mouthed statements that virtue signal but do absolutely nothing else.

    The views and opinions expressed by the contributor do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.

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