Council proposes £1,000 fines for homeless sleeping in tents : Welfare Weekly

Stoke-on-Trent council called ‘callous’ for proposing penalty notice in city centre followed by court appearance and fine.

This article titled “Council proposes £1,000 fines for homeless sleeping in tents” was written by Helen Pidd North of England editor, for on Friday 24th November 2017 15.21 UTC

A council has been called “cruel and callous” for proposing £1,000 fines to homeless people sleeping in tents in the city centre.

Stoke-on-Trent council in Staffordshire is consulting on a public space protection order (PSPO) that will make it an offence for a person to “assemble, erect, occupy or use” a tent unless part of a council-sanctioned activity such as a music festival.

Anyone who fails to pay their £100 on-the-spot penalty notice can be prosecuted and fined up to £1,000 in court.

The PSPO will cover the city centre, Hanley park, Festival park and Octagon retail park.

Ruth Smeeth, the Labour MP for Stoke-on-Trent North and Kidsgrove, said: “This is a cruel and callous policy to inflict on our most vulnerable in the lead-up to Christmas. We do have a growing problem with homelessness here in Stoke-on-Trent, but punishing people for their misfortune is no way to fix it.

“It’s right and proper that the police take action to stop antisocial behaviour on our streets, but punishing the homeless simply for being homeless is appalling.

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“In recent years we’ve seen local funding for drug and alcohol treatment slashed and support to tackle homelessness cut to the bone. Locking these people up or saddling them with debt they can’t pay will only make the problem worse.”

The PSPO is supported by many businesses in Stoke. Jonathan Bellamy, the chair of the City Centre Partnership, told the Stoke Sentinel: “In recent weeks I have personally witnessed in the city centre: two bottles of vodka smashed on the pavements; a drunken woman clearly out of her mind and damaging the front door of a building in Cheapside while children walked by; and a man urinating outside an empty shop in the Cultural Quarter at two in the afternoon.

“Millions of pounds has been invested in the city centre in recent years by the council and private businesses and thousands of livelihoods depend on this vital piece of our local economy. That should not be undermined by the ill-disciplined, destructive behaviour of a few people.”

The GMB union urged members of the public in Stoke to write to the council to oppose the measure, which is designed to stamp out antisocial behaviour. The council is consulting on the proposal until 15 December and says it is a response to requests from local business people, shoppers and visitors.

It would also criminalise sleeping in public toilets as well as “begging in a manner that is reasonably perceived to be intimidating or a nuisance”.

Stuart Richards, senior organiser at GMB, said: “Cuts to benefits, council funding and a lack of affordable housing have led to a massive increase in the number of people affected by homelessness across the West Midlands.

“We’re not going to solve the issues or causes around this by criminalising or punishing those who end up sleeping on our streets. GMB is asking the people of Stoke to take part in the council’s consultation to help to force a change in this proposal.”

Gareth Snell, the MP for Stoke-on-Trent Central, said: “Stoke-on-Trent’s approach to the homeless is seriously flawed. Fining those who have nowhere to go is unacceptable. But to compound the problem, they now plan to cut support for homelessness services in Stoke-on-Trent by £1m as a result of budget cuts.

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“They are failing the very people we should be helping most.”

More than 3,000 people have signed a petition calling on the council to abandon the proposal.

Last year, freedom of information requests by the Vice website discovered that at least 36 local councils in England and Wales “have introduced or are working on PSPOs which criminalise activities linked to homelessness”.

A Stoke-on-Trent city council spokesman said: “No one is being fined for sleeping in a tent. This is a consultation only at this stage, under national public space protection order legislation – powers which a number of authorities up and down the country are already using. A number of options are being considered, aimed at addressing issues of aggressive begging and the kind of antisocial behaviour that all cities face. We’re looking at options because businesses and visitors to the city centre have asked us to. We encourage all feedback before the consultation ends on 15 December.”

“There is a range of support in place to help homeless people in the city. The city council has given one of its buildings to be used as The Macari Centre for homeless people, alongside work in partnership with organisations including Brighter Futures, Salvation Army, YMCA, Voices. We work closely with churches and have launched street chaplains teams to work in the city centre.” © Guardian News & Media Limited 2010

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Source : Council proposes £1,000 fines for homeless sleeping in tents : Welfare Weekly

Will EPA Heed the Pope’s Call to Save Our Oceans?

Reblogged from Centre of Biological Diversity

The Huffington Post, June 30, 2015

Will EPA Heed the Pope’s Call to Save Our Oceans?
By Miyoko Sakashita

When it comes to saving our oceans, I’m wondering: What would Pope Francis do?

With his sprawling encyclical on the fate of our planet this month, the pope became an unexpected revolutionary. I never thought I’d see bold environmental leadership arise from this powerful, historically conservative institution.

By now, everyone knows about his call to fight climate change, ocean acidification, pollution and loss of the planet’s biodiversity.

Pope Francis opened a unique opportunity for a renewed environmental movement with his landmark encyclical Laudato Si, or “On Care for our Common Home.” Now the burden is on society to seize this moment and for the United States to robustly regulate carbon dioxide – the chemical compound that is warming our atmosphere and acidifying our oceans – as the powerful pollutant that it is.

The pope observes that the wealthy countries that have plundered and degraded the natural world “because of short-sighted approaches to the economy, commerce and production” have the greatest duty to clean it up — starting with the United States, among the world’s top carbon dioxide emitters.

“Carbon dioxide pollution increases the acidification of the oceans and compromises the marine food chain. If present trends continue, this century may well witness extraordinary climate change and an unprecedented destruction of ecosystems, with serious consequences for all of us,” the pope wrote.

Despite the growing climate crisis, the U.S. government barely even recognizes carbon dioxide as a pollutant, let alone one that it is serious about regulating in meaningful way. Despite some improvements, the federal government’s regulation of carbon pollution has been timid under the Clean Air Act. We’re still a far cry from cutting carbon dioxide in a way that will help us avoid the worst effects of the climate crisis.

So imagine if the EPA were emboldened like Pope Francis we could use the full extent of existing laws such as the Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act and others to solve these problems.

During the heyday of environmental law reforms of the mid-1970s, Congress also passed another, broader law to act as a backstop when other measures fail: the Toxic Substances Control Act. So we at the Center for Biological Diversity, along with Dr. Donn Viviani – a retired scientist who headed the Climate Policy Assessment Division at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency – have just formally petitioned the federal government to broadly regulate CO2 under the TSCA.

We lay out a litany of problems that carbon pollution is causing in our oceans as it increases their acidity, from the oxygen-deprived dead zones to widespread weakening of corals and shellfish that are unable to create the carbonate coverings they need for protection, problems that ripple up and down the food chain.

Our first-of-its-kind petition to regulate carbon dioxide as a toxic substance gives the Obama administration an opportunity to show important leadership on this global challenge just as international negotiators prepare for the Paris climate talks this December.

This is an urgent problem requiring immediate action, as the pope indicated: “Each year sees the disappearance of thousands of plant and animal species which we will never know, which our children will never see, because they have been lost forever. The great majority become extinct for reasons related to human activity.”

Nowhere is that more clear than in our oceans, which are collecting about 30 percent of our carbon emissions and becoming more acidic in the process and weakening the basic building blocks of life.

“Particularly threatened are marine organisms which we tend to overlook,” the pope noted, “like some forms of plankton; they represent a significant element in the ocean food chain, and species used for our food ultimately depend on them.”

He’s right: When we save the oceans and all the life they hold, we save ourselves and a viable future for generations to come. Who can argue against that?

Society has solved difficult social and environmental problems in the past, and we can all work to fix this one. Now we need to call on EPA for bold leadership to do the right thing.

Follow Miyoko Sakashita on Twitter:

Copyright ©2015, Inc.

This article originally appeared here.

DWP block release of figures on number of people dying after benefits stopped

Original post from Disabled Go News


Conservative Party Conference 2007

A petition has been launched after the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP) blocked the publication of statistics showing how many people have died within six weeks of having their benefits stopped.

More than 18,000 people have signed the petition in under a week after the DWP appealed a decision to release the sensitive figures.

After a freedom of information request, the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO), an independent authority set up to uphold public information rights, agreed that there was no reason not to publish the figures.

“Given the passage of time and level of interest in the information it is difficult to understand how the DWP could reasonably withhold the requested information,” The ICO said.

Despite the Information Commissioner’s reasoning, the DWP is refusing to release the figures. A spokesperson told The Huffington Post UK: “We have lodged an appeal against the Information Commissioner’s decision to the tribunal.”

The DWP also warned it was irresponsible to suggest a causal link between the death of an individual and their benefit claim, and that mortality rates among people with serious health conditions are likely to be higher than those among the general population.

Maggie Zolobajluk, who started the petition, wrote on the page: “For years there have been reports of people committing suicide or dying from ill-health soon after their benefits are stopped.

“As a partner of someone with a disability I have been through two benefit appeals and have also been a benefit tribunal representation – so I know from personal experience how stressful the system can be and the impact they have on families.

“I believe the public needs to know the full impact of benefit changes.”

Data released by the government in 2012 showed that 10,600 people in the UK died between January and November 2011 once their benefits had been stopped. However, the up-to-date statistics have yet to be made public.

Read the full article online:

Roisin Norris

Hi I’m Roisin Norris, Digital Marketing Executive at DisabledGo and I will be uploading blogs and news for you all to read.

More posts from author  …….’

Will climate change make Australia uninhabitable?

Original post from Take Part

‘………….Will climate change make Australia uninhabitable? Watch the sneak preview of ‘Angry Planet’ as George Kourounis explores the brutal Australian summer and battles one of the biggest bushfires in recent years.



Chief social worker: ‘Very difficult’ to secure convictions from Cameron’s jail proposals

Original post from Community Care

‘…………Following news the government will consult on extending the law of wilful neglect to children’s social workers, Trowler told a concerned practitioner the move comes with the territory

Photo: REX/F1 Online

Photo: REX/F1 Online

The chief social worker for children has attempted to ease concerns over David Cameron’s plans to extend the criminal charge of wilful neglect to children’s social workers.

Responding to social workers on Twitter, Isabelle Trowler said it would be very difficult to secure a conviction under the proposals, which would give courts the power to imprison social workers for up to five years.

She posted a message on the social networking site, saying the move, “comes with [the] territory of holding responsibility on behalf of the state”, but added that she thought it, “would be [very] difficult to secure a conviction”.

“Not least because I can’t remember ever thinking poor practice was a result of wilful neglect/reckless practice,” she said.

‘Concern, not defence’

Trowler said the government’s announcement “matches the public [and] political mood” and urged social workers to engage with the consultation process. “Just saying it’s terrible won’t win the argument,” she said.

In a formal statement to Community Care, Trowler said social workers’ first reaction to the plans “should not be one of defence, but of concern for the people we serve”.

“We must focus on the experiences of the victims of abuse, their families and local communities, who feel too often so failed by public services…As a profession we must therefore fully engage with the upcoming consultation,” she said

Last week, Cameron announced his decision to consult on extending the crime of wilful neglect to children’s social workers. The profession reacted furiously to the announcement, with one social worker launching a petition in a bid to prevent the move.

The petition has so far been signed by over 9,000 people, while 90% of 8,442 people polled by Community Care said they do not agree with the prime minister’s proposals.  …………’

Child mental health: A mother’s struggle

Original post from BBC News Health

An extract

‘…………..In the first ever children’s mental health week, a small survey reveals parents’ frustration with the support they get.

Parents like Sally Burke.

She has toughened up. She has had to.

She says: “I’ve become a very hard woman. I’m holding my emotions at arm’s length so that I can function.”

The change has been brought about by having to cope for more than two years with her daughter Maisie’s mental health problems.   ……………’

‘Save our Sheffield park café’ campaign stirs into action – Green Scene – The Star

‘Save our Sheffield park café’ campaign stirs into action – Green Scene – The Star.


I agree the withdrawal of the cafe would be a loss to people who come to the park and go to the cafe, but how many do.  A mention is made of a petition, but I am surprised there is no indication of a link to the petition, if the article was in support then a link would have been included, as it is The Star have just used it as another news item.


I would also question, what the Kudos Group is proposing to do with the space used by the cafe. I am assuming that the contract was for use of the whole building, if so they will be extending into the cafe area for the core reason they wished the contract for.


The council say they are unable to find an operator to run the cafe, but the council from my own experience are no experts on running or finding people to run businesses.


As they say an operator may be found to provide a kiosk or refreshment service elsewhere in the park.  While this would not have the grandeur of the building, it would still be able to have the peace and tranquillity in beautiful landscaped gardens.  This again assumes that the contract did not include the garden area located with the building.


For a supposed article in support of the use of the cafe, there are a lot of points requiring further information.  Also it is published on line on a Sunday, when there is no official printed publication.


I wounder if it will be included in the Monday printed paper.  One will wait and see.