A UKIP councillor has been branded ‘disgusting’ for demanding the removal of homeless people from city streets and calling them ‘unwelcome detritus’.
Colin Galloway, who was on the city council’s homeless committee, made his comments in a motion submitted to a full council meeting set for July 11.
The number of rough sleepers in the city has ballooned from eight in 2014 to 60 as of this May.
But his comments have been condemned by Clare Beresford, who runs Portsmouth Homeless Support and by readers of The News on our Facebook page, see panel.
She said: ‘What this councillor has said is truly disgusting.
‘You can’t make someone do something they don’t want to do.
‘If the system worked better than most of these people would be in accommodation.’
Cllr Galloway’s motion, backed by Ukip’s Cllr Stuart Potter, says Portsmouth ‘is no longer a welcoming city to either business or tourist because it seems we prefer to have vagrants’.
He added: ‘These beggars, vagrants, rough sleepers, homeless, troubled folks or whatever label you want to put on them must be removed from our city and placed in specific care whether they want to or not.
‘We have tried the soft approach and have found it wanting. It’s time for some serious tough love. We need to save our city and we need to save these lost souls.’
A former member of Cllr Galloway’s party, independent councillor Paul Godier is the homelessness champion.
He said people needed compassion – and Cllr Galloway needed to be educated about people’s complex needs.
‘The approach must be very soft, it must be compassionate,’ he said.
‘We’re dealing with, in the majority of cases, broken adults, people who have not faith in local authority.’
He added: ‘I’ve listened to Colin Galloway and I asked for him to be on the homeless working group.
‘He even came on a walk with me but I think he needs to sit down and be educated on their complex needs.’
People are on the streets due to a range of problems, including childhood abuse, Cllr Godier said.
Cllr Potter defended the proposal he seconded but said: ‘This motion does come across hard, I do admit that.
‘Maybe we could have used different words but it needs to be hard to get attention.’
He added: ‘There has to be strong words in there otherwise the left-wing snowflakes... it’s pandering to what they want to hear.
‘Enough is enough, if we speak up we can use the forcible words to get attention to this and get these people help.’
He also said ‘it is not about rounding them up and sticking them behind a fence’.
‘They need help to start getting their lives back together,’ he added.
The News contacted Cllr Galloway but he did not respond.