The labour-led Manchester Council have proposed a charge of £1000 to rough sleepers, deemed by the Liberal Democrats on 13th February as ‘social cleansing’.

The suggested ‘public space protection order’ has been designed to target those refusing to move from doorways or pitching tents in the street. If the policy goes ahead, fines will also target those deemed to be begging aggressively on the streets of Manchester.

The leader of the opposition, John Leech says;

Whilst this city experiences the worst homeless crisis in decades, rather than tackling the causes, Labour in Manchester is investing in fines, court orders and inane policies that are so broad and lacking in detail that it can only be seen as an attempt to clean up the streets.

Leech states that there is no chance of the Lib Dems supporting this order;

“If this isn’t social cleansing then I’ve got no idea what is and I want to make it absolutely crystal clear; Liberal Democrat councillors will oppose this until the end of time.”

This is not the first time that the Manchester Council have caused outrage with their attitude to rough sleepers in the city. Richard Leese, the leader of the council has previously dismissed community led soup kitchens as a ‘bad idea’ and spending on ‘one way tickets’ to remove homeless people from the city centre.

On 15th February The Tenants Union voiced their opinion on the ‘public space protection order’, stating that;

“Fining and prosecuting Manchester’s most vulnerable people is like something from the Victorian era of the workhouse. It is only going to make the problem worse, not make things better.”

The Tenants Union urged people to protest the new legislation;

“With your support, we can stop Manchester City Council from criminalising people in poverty and find solutions to help people rather than vilifying and burdening them further.

The number of rough sleepers in Manchester has risen dramatically in recent years. It is undeniable that the situation needs a solution. It remains to be seen if this proposal from Manchester Council gains traction or continues to be criticised by local groups and the opposition alike.