Petition over 'anti-homeless benches' in Brighton and Hove

The benches in Brighton have sparked a petition (Photograph: Daniel Harris)
The benches in Brighton have sparked a petition (Photograph: Daniel Harris)

A housing campaigner has called on Brighton and Hove City Council to remove what he calls 'anti-homeless benches' in the city.

Daniel Harris started the petition this afternoon (March 1) after he said benches on Edward Street near the old Amex building were 'clearly designed and chosen for one reason – to keep away rough sleepers'.

Similar benches hit the headlines last month, when British rapper Professor Green was filmed removing bars from seats in Bournemouth.

On his petition page, Mr Harris said said: "I call on Geoff Raw the chief executive who is most senior member of staff at Brighton and Hove City Council to have these benches removed and replaced with the old style benches we have always had here in Brighton and Hove.

"These are benches that couples and cuddle up and relax, or local workers can chill and eat their lunch. These are clearly designed and chosen for one reason – to keep away rough sleepers. This is wrong!"

At the last count in November 2017, it was estimated that 178 people were sleeping rough on the streets of Brighton and Hove, giving the city the second largest homeless population after Westminster.

A Brighton and Hove City Council spokesperson said: "The benches highlighted in the petition being shared online were not installed by the council and are not on council owned land.

"No council benches are installed with an 'anti-homeless' intent as alleged recently on social media. The council has made tackling rough sleeping and protecting the vulnerable a priority.

"A range of bench types are installed by the council across the city to meet the different needs of residents and visitors.

"Some benches are designed to aid people with mobility issues.

"The City Parks team is looking at best practice for benches as part of the Open Spaces Strategy and will take into consideration the needs of people with mobility issues such as bench height, upright backs and armrests (at present only about 10 per cent of benches have armrests in Brighton and Hove). This work will include input from disability specialists and comparisons with other local authorities."

To view the petition, visit: www.change.org/p/geoff-raw-brighton-and-hove-city-council-remove-anti-homeless-benches-immedietly