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Brighton and Hove Liberal Democrats

Lib Dems' Patcham Candidate criticises Councillor Barnett's comments on homelessness

May 1, 2021 1:00 PM

Lib Dems' Patcham Candidate criticises Councillor Barnett's comments on homelessness

In response to Councillor Barnett's comments made to The Argus in the story here: https://www.theargus.co.uk/news/19268576.beggars-putting-people-off-coming-brighton/

Liberal Democrats' Patcham by-election candidate, Madelaine Hunter-Taylor, has slammed comments made by Councillor Barnett in relation to the homeless issues faced in Brighton & Hove and challenged the council to improve their approach.

Madelaine Hunter-Taylor, who runs a community interest highlighting the impact of Domestic Abuse, said "I find Councillor Barnett's comments deeply concerning. For a member of both the Housing committee and the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee, her words imply a lack of commitment to an effective strategy to support and reduce the number of street homeless or insecurely housed people in our city.

"Local councillors have a duty of care to all residents, including the vulnerable and hard to reach. The street homeless and insecurely housed are one of the most vulnerable groups in the city and councillors should be dedicated to investing in and supporting the hard-working local organisations working directly with these groups.

"Those experiencing multiple complexities such as homelessness, drug and alcohol dependency, mental health issues, abuse/violence etc need help, not be put in a park on the edge of town away from services and access to support so that others more fortunate than them can pretend they don't exist.

"Under the Conservative government, we have seen a catastrophic level of cuts across all support services, each of which deeply impacts the most vulnerable. Existing charities and services face incredible amounts of pressure to deliver whilst demand continues to increase. It is shocking and unacceptable that Councillor Barnett wishes to simply relocate this community out of sight so that she and others are able to shop without disturbance. 'Out of sight, out of mind' is not a solution to homelessness.

"Do Steve Bell and the local Conservative Party consider these comments acceptable from a representative of their party? I call on the local Conservatives to suspend Councillor Barnett, as well as for her position on the Housing Committee and the Health Overview & Scrutiny Committee to be reviewed.

"I also challenge the council on their current strategy of reducing the number of street homeless in the city. Relocating people out of area to properties such as Kendal Court in Newhaven, as is current practice, is not an acceptable solution. Lewes & Eastbourne Council and partner organisations have absorbed the responsibility of caring for highly vulnerable residents with little support, funding or accountability from Brighton & Hove City Council. It is a disgrace. Our council can do better and its actions should not impact the neighbouring authorities."