Tesco to remove anti-homeless spikes from Regent Street store after protests | The Guardian
Tesco has agreed to remove the anti-homeless spikes from outside one of its central London shops after days of protest.
The inch-high steel studs provoked outrage when they were spotted outside the supermarket’s Regent Street branch and in the doorway of a block of luxury flats near London Bridge.
As protests against the spikes gathered pace this week, managers at Tesco insisted that they were designed to prevent antisocial behaviour rather than to deter homeless people from sleeping nearby.
However, Tesco said yesterday that it would remove the spikes. “Customers told us they were intimidated by antisocial behaviour outside our Regent Street store and we put studs in place to try to stop it,” a spokesman said. “These studs have caused concern for some, who have interpreted them as an anti-homeless measure, so we have decided to remove them to address this concern. We will find a different solution and hope this clears up any confusion.”
The supermarket chain called in the police this week over planned protests against the Regent Street store, which was targeted on Wednesday night by a group of activists: a team of men wearing hi-vis outfits were photographed pouring a concrete mixture over the spikes before running down a side street.
People on a march against austerity cuts are expected to demonstrate outside Tesco’s store on Regent Street on 21 June, with 600 peoplesigned up to attend on Facebook. A separate Change.org petition calling for an end to anti-homeless spikes has attracted 113,000 signatures since its launch at the weekend.
The mayor of London, Boris Johnson, and the housing minister, Kris Hopkins, joined the criticism this week. Johnson described the spikes’ use outside a block of flats on Southwark Bridge Road as “ugly, self defeating and stupid” and called for them to be removed immediately.
Homelessness charities described the studs as inhumane. Jacqui McCluskey, director of policy at Homeless Link, said: “It’s shocking to see the use of metal spikes to discourage rough sleeping and hardly helps to deal with the rising number of people who are forced to sleep on our streets. Many people who sleep rough just don’t know where to turn and are among the most vulnerable in our society. Sleeping on the streets is dangerous and bad for your health. Individuals need support.”
McCluskey added: “This approach is not only inhumane; it does nothing to tackle the causes of rough sleeping and just moves the issue on for someone else to deal with. Luckily, most people are concerned if they see someone sleeping rough. The most practical thing you can do is to help connect individuals to local support by calling StreetLink on 0300 500 0914.”
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