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London Mayor Johnson calls for 'ugly, stupid anti-homeless' spikes to be removed

Published time: June 10, 2014 02:51
Edited time: June 27, 2014 07:53

Photo by RT's Sara Firth

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London Mayor Boris Johnson distanced himself on Monday from the installation of metal spikes designed to prevent homeless from sleeping at a luxury building in central London. The “anti-homeless spikes” have prompted wide condemnation on social media.

Photographs of metal studs on the doorsteps of a luxury block of flats on Southwark Bridge Road in central London first spurred outrage in London and online on Saturday.

An anonymous resident of the residential complex told the Telegraph, that “there was a homeless man asleep there about six weeks ago. ‘Then about two weeks ago all of a sudden studs were put up outside. I presume it is to deter homeless people from sleeping there.”

Now top city politicians have joined the chorus against the spikes.

London Mayor Boris Johnson’s office called on the building’s managers to remove the spikes immediately.

"The Mayor believes these spikes are ugly, self-defeating and stupid,” a spokesperson for Johnson said. “Southwark Council are investigating, which is the right thing to do, but the Mayor is clear, the developer should see sense and remove the spikes immediately. There are far better ways to tackle rough sleeping on London's streets. The Mayor has invested over £34million in schemes to tackle the issue, like No Second Night Out, resulting in three-quarters of rough sleepers only spending one night on the streets. He will continue to work alongside the government, boroughs and key agencies to reach people in need of support.”

One of the residents also decried the spikes, saying it was not the right way to deal with the problem.

"It's almost obscene, I was really offended when I saw it myself. It's sending an awful message to homeless people," the local resident told RT correspondent Sara Firth.

Southwark Council said the installation of the spikes was a counterproductive move in combatting homelessness.

"Southwark Council is not involved with the installation of the studs outside of the property at 118 Southwark Bridge Road and we do not feel this is the best way to deal with the problem,” said Counciller Peter John, leader of Southwark Council.

"The studs were not part of the original planning application for the building but would be considered too small to come under planning enforcement, however we will continue to see if there is anything within the council's power to get these measures removed or an alternative solution found."

Meanwhile, a petition was opened online to protest the “controversial and inhumane way of 'managing' London's homeless population.” The petition calls on the property manager Property Partners and Mayor Johnson to remove the spikes.

“We should be offering practical and emotional support to help the most vulnerable to get back on their feet,” the petition’s author wrote. “We should not be sending them the message that they are pests that need to be warded off.”

RT’s Sara Firth captured these images on Monday of the scene outside the Southwark building. Protest banners were left by those in opposition to the spikes, she said. One sign calls for a Tuesday demonstration outside the building.

One pro-spikes resident of the building replaced the protest signs with a flowerpot.