Foxtons has been forced to remove 'anti-homeless' spikes from outside one of its central London branches after it was labelled the "estate agent for Bond villains" and a petition was launched against it.
The metal studs on ledges outside the firm's Holborn branch sparked a wave of criticism on Twitter and led to over 20,000 people signing an online petition to get them removed. The petition was shared by Green party leader, Natalie Bennett, and Labour London assembly member Tom Copley.
Foxtons reinforces its reputation as the estate agent for Bond villains with window spikes. pic.twitter.com/tS4ZOlcSdM— Michelle Booth (@tillylonsdale) June 10, 2015
A picture of the spikes was taken by Michelle Booth who posted it on Twitter Wednesday with the caption: "Foxtons reinforces its reputation as the estate agent for Bond villains with window spikes." It is not known how long the spikes had been there.
Spikes erected outside Selfridges in Manchester sparked similar public outrage earlier this year before the store agreed to remove them. They have also previously appeared outside south London homes and a Tesco.
A spokeswoman from Foxtons told Metro the company would remove the spikes: "We understand that the studs outside our West End office have raised some concerns within the community and we will be removing them shortly."
Read more: http://metro.co.uk/2015/06/11/foxtons-to-remove-anti-homeless-spikes-after-petition-gains-over-20000-supporters-5241011/#ixzz3cm0W3myr
Zahira Patel, 24, who works in civil liberties law and volunteers at homeless shelters, started the petition and said the spikes have been "increasingly used to deter homeless people from sleeping outside stores all over London".
Please sign this petition against anti-homeless spikes outside Foxtons in Holborn https://t.co/bGjamMYUO8— Tom Copley (@tomcopley) June 11, 2015
On the petition website Ms Patel wrote: "Sadly, this is yet another move in a long line of "defensive architecture" aimed at deterring homeless people from sleeping in highly visible places.
"At a time when more than 8 million of us are reported (one in three workers) to be 1 payday away from not being able to pay for our mortgages or rent and homelessness is rising rapidly, we cannot simply push the homeless out of sight.
"If they are forced away from public spaces, they may end up having to sleep in more isolated and dangerous areas - a horrific prospect, considering that homeless people already face extremely high levels of violence as it is. Let's not make their lives any harder.
"If we as a society are so uncomfortable at the sight of homeless people outside our stores, business and in public places, let's work towards getting them the help and housing they need instead of sweeping them away to the dark corners of our city."
Paul Noblet, head of public affairs at the youth homelessness charity Centrepoint, told the Standard: "Anti-homeless spikes are a short-sighted response which add to the stigma of homelessness at a time when we need all Londoners, be they businesses, politicians or residents, to be focussed on a growing problem.
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"Any company putting anti-homeless spikes outside their buildings should think hard about whether this is the message they really want to be putting out in our capital city in the 21st century."
The Foxtons spikes scandal comes after it was claimed last week that the company could be facing a multi-million pound legal bill in a row about light bulbs. The estate agents is facing court action for charging hidden commission for work done on their properties.
Branches of Foxtons have also been repeatedly vandalised during protests about rising rents.