Bournemouth Council pays homeless to leave

Offers free one-way train tickets out

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Homeless person sitting on road.

Bournemouth Borough Council is attempting to deal with its long-standing homelessness problem by buying people one-way tickets out of town.

As part of a new £200,000 strategy to deal with homelessness and rough sleeping, it says, it has spent £500 so far on train tickets for nine people to leave the town.

"We have a proactive reconnections service for those from out of area needing to return to areas where they have family or social networks," says the council in a report.

"This approach is well established within local authorities and is endorsed by central government. Each case is considered on its merits and efforts are made to ensure that rough sleeping is not
simply displaced to another area."

Councillor Robert Lawton, cabinet member for housing, tells the Daily Mail that many rough sleepers in the town don't have a local connection.

"They just come to Bournemouth because they see it as an attractive place to live and beg," he says.

"We want to help them get back to where they came from. There's nothing to stop them coming back again, we don't have guards at the ticket station stopping homeless people coming in. But we'll then pick up on them again and generally they will realise there's no point to keep coming back."

Homelessness in Bournemouth has risen by 400% over the last four years - much more than in the country as a whole. According to the council, only around half of the affected people are local, and only non-locals are encouraged to leave.

But it's not the first time that the town has taken a controversial approach to the homeless. Late last year, the council went so far as to start broadcasting bagpipe music in the local bus station at night in order to drive homeless people away.

Around 4,000 people signed a petition calling for the music to be stopped, saying the strategy was cruel.

However, the council has also embarked on a plan to buy up around 60 properties across the town to be offered as an alternative to bed and breakfast accommodation.

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