The Torbay Liberal Democrats have slammed a campaign that seeks to ‘name and shame’ so-called fake homeless people in Torquay.
The campaign – spearheaded by local businessman Ashley Sims – involves taking pictures of those who are begging and claim to be homeless.
The controversial campaign was launched with the backing of the Torbay Chamber of Commerce chair Susie Colley and Ellie Waugh of Humanity Torbay.
The police and local homeless charities have condemned the campaign, which has already mistakenly named a genuine homeless person as ‘fake’. There are also fears that the campaign could stoke vigilantism in the area.
Cllr Nick Pentney – who represents the Torbay Council ward of Tormohun that includes the town centre – slammed the campaign. He said: “This is a cruel and callous campaign that absolutely needs to stop now.
“Have its proponents thought for one second what the consequences of this campaign could be? In these freezing conditions, what happens when a genuinely homeless person is driven from public view into a discreet alley where no one can see or indeed help them?
“When you start hounding people away into hidden corners then the consequences are always going to be bad.”
His ward colleague, Cllr Mandy Darling, added: “I am disgusted that – at a time of severe ice and snow – people can think it’s a good idea to harass beggars on the street in the hope that they’ll simply go away.
“Torbay Council cut the ‘supporting people’ budget which used to help people back into accommodation.
“People should be campaigning for properly funding public services rather than targeting unfortunate individuals!”