Manchester City Council have refuted claims that they are in the wrong regarding the eviction of ‘The Ark’ homeless camp, stating that public disruption necessitated its removal.
Public urination, vandalism, fighting, and intimidation of members of the public are some of the disruptions that the council have accused the homeless people of causing at their Oxford Road camp.
The statement, given by Manchester City Council’s executive member for neighbourhoods, Nigel Murphy, also said that large amounts of stolen property had been recovered from a similar camp on King Street, and that some occupiers of the camp were not actually homeless.
Mr Murphy said: “Like the protesters, we don’t believe anyone should be sleeping rough on the streets, and we sympathise with the plight of all genuinely homeless people.
“But some people connected with this camp are not homeless and have their own accommodation – including one person who was arrested this morning.
“Members of our homelessness unit were on site this morning – as they have been on a regular basis since the first camps appeared in April – to offer accommodation, help and support to anyone who needs it.”
This assertion contradicts that of humanitarian spokesperson for the shelter, Jennifer Wu, who said that housing officials had not visited the camp before yesterday and that they were lying about visiting regularly.
Of the 72 people from the camp that their officers engaged with, 17 have refused to work with them, 24 have been found accommodation – including in a recently opened residential unit – and nine have refused that offer, whilst the rest have drifted away after the initial engagement or returned to their own abodes.
‘The Ark’ camp, which had a 3,000 signature strong petition to save it from eviction, lost a legal battle with Manchester City Council and Manchester Metropolitan University, with a possession order being granted by the High Court on Wednesday.
Mr Murphy said: “We have worked closely with our colleagues from Manchester Metropolitan University, and after the courts turned down the protesters’ application to appeal against the possession order, have assisted them in carrying this out, alongside GMP, court bailiffs and immigration officers.”