BARS have been fitted to city centre benches in a bid to crackdown on antisocial behaviour.

City of York Council has placed six metal bars on two bus stop benches, in Rougier Street, following a number of complaints, however the move has sparked a backlash.

A petition calling for the bars to be removed has already gathered more than 1400 signatures.

Other bars, labelled as "anti-homeless" have already been placed inside a shelter at the railway station.

One local charity worker said: "If it's a decision that comes from the council it should be a decision that supports the homeless strategy already in place.

"They should be putting more provisions into the homeless projects already and make it easier to approach us, instead of spending money on spikes and bars.

"It's not a very welcoming or supportive measure for the homeless and projects the wrong picture totally or take into consideration the needs people have when they are homeless."

Residents who signed the petition have reacted with anger at the measures taken by the authority.

Lisa Ledgeway, from York, said: "It's disgusting.  More should be done to help the homeless, there should be more shelters.

"Build small cubicles with their own key.  They need warmth and shelter now."

Jeanette Munday added: "This is totally wrong, barbaric in fact. 

"Everyone has the right to sleep and homelessness is not always a choice.

"At least there is cover here so a dry night can be had. The bars are a disgrace."

Steve Waddington, Assistant Director for Housing and Community Safety, said: “Following complaints about anti-social behaviour in this area the council consulted with partners about these problems and was advised that the most appropriate action was to either remove the benches entirely or fit them with arms.

“Removing the benches would have an effect on all bus users, so the action taken this month was to put arms on the benches/ bars underneath them. The aim of introducing these measures was about deterring recurrent anti-social behaviour by people who gather in this location.

“Through the ASB Hub we are taking a multi-agency approach to ensure that we are engaging with rough sleepers and are able to offer the support people need, whether that be in terms of finding accommodation or health provision.”


More to follow...