Updated: Wednesday, 22nd November 2017 @ 3:54pm

Manchester homeless protester ‘bribed’ with roof over head by city council

Manchester homeless protester ‘bribed’ with roof over head by city council

| By Nsofwa Kangwa

A homeless protester says he felt 'bribed' by Manchester City Council as they offered him sheltered accommodation, he had once been told was unavailable, after serving him papers to evacuate his Albert Square campsite.​ 

Bailiffs are due to evict the Homelessness For Justice camp, where more than 30 people are raising awareness for the city’s temporary homelessness crisis.

However the group is attempting to appeal, with the help of a solicitor, against a council possession order.

Camp resident Scott Russell challenged the initial eviction order citing the Human Rights and Housing Acts, but the order was granted on the grounds that he had failed to attend an earlier hearing.

Scott's solicitor Ben Taylor sought permission to appeal but this was refused by District Judge Iyer at Manchester Civil Justice Centre.

Ben, of WTB Solicitors, Longsight, said: “We now await the Legal Aid Agency's decision as to whether funding will be granted to pursue the appeal.

“Such an appeal cannot be launched without such funding but can be launched even after the eviction has occurred.

“Once granted, we can renew the application to appeal in front of the appeal court.”

The Homeless Camp was set up on Wednesday April 15 in the centre of Albert Square and has stayed there since then.

On Thursday April 16, notices to quit were served by the City Council and possession proceedings were also issued.

The following day, campaigners were served with court papers that were thrown into the pitched tents.

Three representatives from the camp attended a hearing that was held on Monday April 20 – but Scott did not attend.

After District Judge Iyer made a possession order last Monday, representatives from the Refugee and Asylum Seeker Participatory Action Research (RAPAR) contacted Ben, who was asked by Scott to set aside the order for possession.

On Tuesday April 21, Scott’s solicitor Ben Taylor made a successful application to stay the warrant for possession until Tuesday April 28, so that the application to set aside the order could be heard.

However last Thursday, Manchester City Council successfully applied for the hearing to be brought forward to Friday April 23.

It was just before the hearing that the council solicitor offered Scott accommodation, which the campaigner said he refused.

Scott said: “I felt it was a bribe aimed at leaving everyone else at the Homeless Camp stranded with me in a lifeboat.”

It’s believed that the City Council told a Salford Star reporter that they were no spaces available in the Manchester area for the homeless.

Scott continued: “How come there was suddenly a space for me? It was a bribe – a derisory offer that I would never take without every homeless person being offered the same as me.”

Campers on the Albert Square site are now waiting for a decision from the Legal Aid Agency to see if they’ll receive funding to appeal against the council.

Despite this, residents are expecting a court clerk to arrive this week to give Scott and the rest of the campaigners a letter notifying them of their eviction.

Image courtesy of Homeless Rights of Justice, with thanks.