Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable is the latest to have his say on the ‘Homeless Tax’ row engulfing Manchester’s town hall after a visit to Big Issue North today.
The political heavyweight described it as “one of the most unforgivable and deplorable misuses of power in local government history.”
The ‘Homeless Tax’, as it’s been dubbed, is a new Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) aimed at cracking down on ‘aggressive begging’ and rough sleepers pitching tents or sleeping in doorways in the city centre.
If agreed, the move will allow the council to hit rough sleepers with on-the-spot fines of £100, rising to £1,000 in court if unpaid.
Manchester Lib Dem leader John Leech launched a bid to scrap the proposals and penned an open letter to Labour council leader Richard Leese, describing the policy as “social cleansing”.
Today, whilst speaking with Big Issue North vendors in Manchester, the Liberal Democrat leader Vince Cable unleashed a stark warning aimed at Manchester Council.
He accused the Labour-run council of a “cruel and inhumane attempt to clean up Manchester’s streets” and pledged to find ways to increase circulation and coverage for the Big Issue North.
Speaking with Big Issue North seller Justin and his very popular buddy, Bumper in St Anns Square, Vince Cable said: “Labour’s ‘Homeless Tax’ is an utterly barbaric policy. If enacted, it will be remembered as one of the most unforgivable and deplorable misuses of power in local government history.
“Every single Labour councillor who has sat on their hands and enabled this policy to cause so much pain should be ashamed.
“This is a cruel and inhumane attempt to clean up Manchester’s streets. I am proud that John Leech and the Liberal Democrats are leading the fight against it.
“I appeal to Labour councillors who, like the Lib Dems, oppose this plan to do the right thing and urge the Labour administration to think again. This is not a time for ‘holding the fort’ or playing party political games. These are real people’s lives and anyone that doesn’t speak out against this deplorable policy is guilty by association.”
Manchester Lib Dem leader John Leech, alongside newly elected MEP Jane Brophy and Deputy Leader Richard Kilpatrick, have been calling for the policy to be scrapped and welcomed Cable’s comments.
Leech said: “I’m very grateful to Vince Cable for backing our campaign and unequivocally opposing this dreadful policy.
“We’ve been fighting against this policy for several months now and it’s great to see Lib Dem leaders both current and future, united against this awful proposal that does nothing except punish the most vulnerable in our society.
“Only the Liberal Democrats are standing up for Manchester’s most vulnerable. Labour councillors must back our campaign today or risk implementing one of the most brutal policies in Manchester’s history.”