In response to the decision made by Poole Council on 13 March that its PSPO will be implemented on 16 April for a period of three years, Rev Pat Southgate Chair of Routes to Roots, spoke to the BBC: “In light of the decision made by Poole council last night with regard to the PSPO I would like to say that Routes to Roots are no longer surprised by any decision the council make regarding the homeless in Poole.
“Once again we are appalled by the way in which this measure shows complete lack of care or compassion for the growing number of people, many with a local connection to Poole, who are having to sleep on our streets or in our car parks. Many of these people are having to beg in order to survive.
“This measure does nothing to help these most vulnerable people find a solution to help meet their needs: it merely puts them at risk of being criminalised for being poor.”
At Poole’s annual Homeless Sunday Service on Sunday, 4 February, the Right Reverend Karen Gorham, Bishop of Sherborne and Patron of Routes to Roots, expressed outrage at the introduction of the full PSPO, in particular the provision which prevents any homeless person from finding somewhere to sleep before midnight. Bishop Karen talked of how devastating, dangerous and isolating it is to be homeless: one in three homeless people will be a victim of violence and they have an average lifespan of just 47. The Revd Pat Southgate, chair of R2R, told the large congregation that Poole Council should be ashamed that it allows people who are ill and need care to be out at night and unable to bed down, even in a cold, damp and smelly car park, until after midnight.
On 1 February, despite opposition from all those involved in helping the homeless, Poole’s Public Spaces Protection Order came into effect. Poole Council refused to publish the results of the consultation before enacting the order and the policy has been implemented without being discussed at committee but following a decision by a delegated officer.