“The country’s most right-wing council has reached a whole new low”
Manchester City’s sole opposition Councillor John Leech has launched a stinging attack on Manchester’s Labour Council, accusing them of being the most right-wing in the country after spending £10,000 on one-way tickets to ‘get rid’ of the homeless.
Following a Freedom of Information (FOI) request, Manchester City Council, which had 78 rough sleepers last year, admitted it had spent almost £10,000 on one-way train tickets for homeless people in the past six years.
John Leech, who is the sole opposition councillor on Manchester Council, launched a vicious attack accusing the Labour Council of being the ‘most right wing in the country’, and publicly disassociated himself from them.
In a stinging statement, he said: “I am utterly appalled at this revelation but unfortunately not at all surprised, it is completely typical of this council’s apathetic attitude towards homelessness. Sweep the problem under the carpet and hope no-one notices – that’s the Manchester Labour way.
“Manchester’s homelessness strategy should be about getting people off the streets, not just the streets of Manchester. All this is doing is shunting them from one city to another and without a strong support network in the city they are sent to, they will be left in an even worse place.
“Manchester Council has spent years refusing to build affordable homes, approving luxury developments, evicting and trying to sue the homeless, ignoring the rough sleepers problem and now buying them out of the city – it’s a pretty lengthy record.
“The country’s most right-wing Labour council has reached a whole new low.”
It was claimed that the strategy was set up to help homeless people return to their families and ten councils said they had bought tickets for homeless people between 2012 and 2017, but one man told how he was bought a ticket to a city he had never been to before, saying it made him ‘feel sick.’
This is not the first time Manchester Council has been accused of ineffectively addressing the homelessness crisis in Manchester. Recent disagreements over affordable housing in the Manchester Labour group caused tensions to boil over, with Mayor Andy Burnham being forced to step in.
In 2016, Manchester Council effectively evicted and tried to sue a group of homeless people who had pitched tents in the city centre and in 2015, Richard Leese, the leader of Manchester Council, cause controversy when he wrote in a blog post that the “most likely beneficiaries [of beggars] are the nearest off-licence, drug dealer, or the mysterious people seen dropping some beggars off in the city centre and then picking them up again later in the day.”
Charity Homeless Link chief executive, Rick Henderson, said: “If a person has a support network in a different area, then helping them reconnect can help to end their rough sleeping.
“Simply displacing rough sleepers without offering support is not solving the issue, and at worst can exacerbate their situation, leaving them more isolated and at risk of deteriorating physical and mental health.”