A Tory councillor has sparked outrage by demanding the tents of homeless people in Cardiff be torn down – as freezing temperatures set in across the UK.
Councillor Kathryn Kelloway tweeted: “If you seek safety in our city centre, if you seek prosperity for local businesses, if you seek a better image for Cardiff. Cllr Thomas come to Queen Street. Cllr Thomas, tear down those tents.”
The responses to her call were scathing, with Kelloway being branded “moronically insensitive”.
Despite this, she stood her ground, adding: “Glad that I’ve raised attention of this important issue. If these people had nowhere else to go my comments would be horrible and heartless!
“But they do have somewhere to go. There are more than enough hostel beds available in Cardiff. I want them in rooms, not tents.”
Some 597 people sleeping rough or in emergency accommodation were estimated to have died in 2017 in England and Wales, the Office for National Statistics (ONS) said.
This represents a 24% leap from 482 in 2013, according to the department’s first research of its kind.
Rough sleeping figures have doubled in Cardiff since 2014, and the council operates a strategy offering 45 emergency bed spaces, 216 frontline hostel spaces and an outreach team.
Councillor Huw Thomas, the Labour leader of Cardiff Council, replied to Kelloway saying her message had been “awfully judged.”
He added: “Of course no one wants tents in our city centre, but we have to act sensitively, and support people into accommodation with help for their underlying needs. Small wonder homelessness is soaring under this Tory Gov, if ‘tearing down tents’ is their mindset.”
A Crisis report in December found 12,300 people are currently sleeping rough on the streets and nearly 11,950 are spending their nights in cars, on trains, on buses or in tents.