‘Tent city’ campaigners reach agreement with council

Homelessness protesters are given semi-permanent space after being moved from Park Square.

Campaigners from the Leeds Homelessness Partnership have reached an agreement in court with Leeds City Council for a stay of six weeks for their camp.

Over the last month the camp has seen tent numbers stretch into double figures, many of which were collected after being abandoned at Leeds Festival. The camp, dubbed ‘Tent city’, provides shelter, food and protection for homeless people in the City.

The Gryphon spoke to activists from the Partnership at their camp, in a car park within walking distance of Park Square, after they voluntarily moved just a few hours before. Haydn Jessop explained to the paper the reasoning for their presence:

“We’re here to help the less fortunate people, the homeless people of Leeds. We’ve been to two sites before this. We’ve been at Park Square; we’ve been at the Art Gallery. We got evicted from the Art Gallery and today in court [4 Oct. 2016] we came to an agreement to move to some sort of land that we can have.

“I believe that we’re the first group ever in the UK to be granted a space for the homeless and less fortunate people. We’ve got a maximum of 6 weeks here but obviously we need the Council and the CGL’s (Change, Grow, Live) to carry on working with us and get these guys into the supported housing that they need.”

Mr Jessop went on to say: “You’ve got students from all across the UK here in Leeds, we’re always taking food donations. You guys can start spreading awareness, start spreading the word and opening the eyes of the UK to this problem.

“We’ve done it here in Leeds. There’s many other cities doing it like Bristol, Manchester, and Nottingham.

If anyone needs advice – get in touch with us. There’s other people in England that can get up and do what we’re doing.”

The council has maintained that “helping the homeless remains an absolute priority”. Debra Coupar, the council member for communities, had previously said the protesters had not “chosen to engage with the council” but after the court agreement was reached on 4 October it appears that this has changed.

Christopher Tobin

(Image: BBC)

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