Bushes at Preston retail park cut down after homeless people found sleeping there

A Preston councillor has raised concerns over the welfare of homeless people after a city centre retail park mowed down bushes after reports of them "causing problems".

Friday, 7th August 2020, 11:45 am
The retail park mowed down the bushes after reports of homeless people camping there.

Councillor Daniel Gregg heard the sound of bushes being mowed down at the Queens retail park on Queen street from as early as eight o clock on Wednesday morning.

After raising concerns for nearby residents who may have been disturbed by what he described as a "racket", he was informed that the bushes had been removed due to reports of homeless people who were "causing problems" for shoppers and "creating a mess."

After a past of money troubles and homelessness, Preston Lib Dem Diversity Coordinator & City Councillor Daniel Gregg claims he was disappointed with the way the situation was handled.

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"I originally contacted the Queen Street Retail park Facebook page about the awful noise because people might have still been sleeping. They soon replied stating that they would ask the maintenance people to start a little later at 8.30am in the the future and proceeded to let me know about homeless individuals staying in the bushes.

"We shouldn't be cutting down bushes because people are experiencing very difficult circumstances in their lives. Instead we should be signposting these people to paces they can help such as Housing Advice and The Foxton Centre.

"It is 2020, we really shouldn't be having people staying on the street or even in bushes, especially during a global pandemic. I really feel for these people, having experienced homelessness myself before.

Ally Brown, Director of Communities and Environment at Preston City Council, said: “We have been notified of a group of rough sleepers in this area. Our Outreach team have been on site to offer support, but were unable to find anyone. We have left drop cards with information about the services available through the Foxton Centre.

Councillor Daniel Gregg is not happy with the action he claims was taken by Queens retail park.

“Throughout the pandemic we’ve been working alongside our partners to support rough sleepers in Preston. This included ensuring accommodation options are available to rough sleepers as part of the Government’s programme to support rough sleepers.

“Anyone who is rough sleeping or knows of someone in need of help and support can find out more information via our website or the Foxton Centre.”

The Foxton Centre, Knowsley Street, is a charity and "strong community anchor" that works with local rough sleepers, street sex workers and youth clubs.

Their work involves members of the community who are facing problems with poverty, addiction, and mental health issues.

Workmen began ripping out the bushes as early as eight in the morning.

And they aim to help the homeless with their Day Centre, that offers continuous support and hot meals, showers and clothing.

Councillor Daniel Gregg commented: "I think it's pretty terrible that they'd cut the berry bushes down because of people trying to find a safe space to lay their head down.

"It's almost as bad as businesses putting spikes up outside their business or council's purposely installing anti homeless street furniture."

The Post contacted the Queens retail park for a comment, but this was declined "due to present restrictions".

More information about the Foxton Centre and Preston Housing Advice can be found at thefoxtoncentre.co.uk or preston.gov.uk.