Liverpool IWW condemns the council’s proposed “Public Space Protection Order”, under which the homeless could be fined up to £1,000 for the ‘crime’ of begging. We call on the people of Liverpool to show their opposition, by demonstrating at St Luke’s bombed out church a week on Saturday (14th November) from 12 noon, and signing the Change.org petition, which already had nearly 7,000 signatures at the time of going to press.
It is shocking that we find ourselves in a position where we need to argue for the right of homeless people not to be fined for their poverty, but thanks to greedy mayor Joe Anderson this is exactly the situation we are in. No-one begs for the fun of it. People beg out of desperation, because our society has badly let them down. £1,000 would be a huge amount of money for any working class person, but for a homeless person it is almost unimaginable, and could never be paid.
If Liverpool Labour wanted people to stop begging, they would stop implementing policies which massively increase poverty in our city. Instead, they aim to criminalise deprivation, in order to create a corporate paradise in Liverpool One, the Central ‘Business Improvement District’, and beyond. While Joe Anderson claims that his hands are tied by the Tory government when he makes spending cuts, it is his anti-homeless crusade which really shows what kind of man he is. Not content with using the police to starve homeless people out of a former bank a few months back, he now seeks to use crushing fines to force homeless people out of the city where they may well have family and friends.
On a different note, we worry that the proposed ban on “erecting unauthorised structures in public places such as gazebos, tents, tables and chairs, stages, temporary shelters, boxes and crates” will mean an attack on the free expression of those who want to speak or perform publicly, or distribute information.
But it’s not too late for Anderson and co. to save face. We note that councils in Oxford, Hackney and Wycombe have proposed similar measures, only to abandon them when they’ve realised the depth of public opposition.
Our union, the Industrial Workers of the World, has a long history of both organising the homeless and fighting for free speech. We’ll continue to do so as long as there is breath in our bodies.