Homeless evicted right from under MPs noses

Homeless evicted right from under MPs noses

Homelessness campaigners say the grate has been put in place to stop people sleeping there

Homelessness campaigners say the grate has been put in place to stop people sleeping there

Homeless people sleeping rough in the Westminster station tunnels have been evicted over the weekend.

A huge metal grate has now been put in place that comes down at 7pm to block off access to the tunnel, according to a homelessness campaigner who has worked with rough sleepers in the Westminster area.

The latest homelessness figures, released by the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG), show that there has been a 165% increase in rough sleepers since 2010.

The number of people estimated to be sleeping rough on any one night is at 4,677, according to the charity Homeless Link.

Over half of the country’s homeless population are believed to be in London, with 170,000 people sleeping rough in the capital out of a total of 320,000 nationwide, according to charity Shelter.

Shaista Aziz, co-founder of the Labour Homelessness campaign, says a number of people who sleep in the tunnel as they see it as ‘a safe and secure’ place and where they can protect themselves against the weather, have spoken to her about how ‘distraught they are’.

She said: ‘We’ve been told by people who sleep there that the gate goes down around 7pm’.

Houses of Parliament with popular clock tower Big Ben in London.

The grate has been put in place while Parliament is in recess (Picture: iStockphoto)

Ms Aziz said there were at least 10 people who sleep in the area and who had been affected by the gate.

She added: ‘There were quite a lot more people who used to sleep there, but the harassment by police and others, has seen the numbers fall.

‘People have had warning notices placed on them, asking them to move on.

‘This hasn’t just happened now, this has been going on for a few months’.

Ms Aziz said the manner in which the gate had been put in place, in the ‘shadow of Parliament’, was disgraceful.

She added: ‘The fact that this has happened while Parliament is in recess, there’s no doubt it’s been done because MPs and others probably feel uncomfortable’.

shaista aziz

Shaista Aziz says a number of homeless people have informed her campaign of how ‘distraught they are’

‘Rather than trying to find a solution to this man-made problem, a gate has been put in place.

‘We’re becoming a gated city to keep out the undesirables.’

Sharing a picture of the gate, Hugh Gaffney MP tweeted: ‘I am absolutely disgusted to see this grate is now in place, particularly as no warning or notice was given to people who were rough sleeping in the Westminster station tunnels.

‘We need proper support in place to support those who are homeless, not punitive actions like this.’

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He urged the government to ‘properly support homeless people’ and said he would be raising the matter in Parliament upon his return.

The land on which the grate has been built, belongs to the parliamentary estate.

A UK Parliament spokesperson said: ‘We are in the process of transferring ownership of the area to Parliament and have installed a pass activated gate to better manage the area for those entering the estate.

‘We continue to engage with partners on addressing the difficult issue of rough sleeping in and around the station constructively and sympathetically.’

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