A Conservative councillor has incited anger after calling for rough sleepers’ tents to be “torn down” in Cardiff city centre.
Kathryn Kelloway made the comment on Twitter on Thursday, posting a picture of herself in front of the tents and challenging Cardiff City Council leader Huw Thomas to come down to the Queen Street site and “tear down these tents”.
Cllr Thomas, if you seek safety in our city centre, if you seek prosperity for local businesses, if you seek a better image for Cardiff. Cllr Thomas come to Queen Street. Cllr Thomas, tear down these tents. pic.twitter.com/aL2GNXCJDk
— Kathryn Kelloway (@kathkelloway) January 24, 2019
The furious online response ripped into Kelloway, questioning where the tent occupants should go instead, slamming her choice of words, while former Welsh rugby international Ian Gough branded her a “disgrace to humanity”.
Thomas also called for a more sensitive approach and said: “Of course no one wants tents in our city centre, but we have to act sensitively, and support people into accommodation with help for their underlying needs.”
Your Pretty much a disgrace to humanity with comments like that. You should try swapping positions with those less fortunate
— Ian Gough (@VanGough4) January 24, 2019
As someone who works in the city centre of Cardiff all I see when I walk through town every day are victims of the murderous Tory governments austerity measures. People who have been abandoned and left to die in doorways and you would take the little protection have left? Shame!
— Kerry (@Kerry_Loo) January 24, 2019
But Cyncoed councillor Kelloway stood firm despite the backlash, later insisting: “Glad that I’ve managed to raise attention of this important issue. If these people had nowhere else to go my comments would be horrible and heartless! But they do have somewhere to go. There are more than enough hostel beds available in Cardiff. I want them in rooms, not in tents.”
A total of 74 rough sleepers were recorded on Cardiff’s streets in the last annual count, taken back in November 2017. That was more than double the previous year’s count of 34 while new figures for 2018 are due to be released in the next few weeks.
The Office for National Statistics’ first-ever official homeless death count estimated that 13 people had died homeless in Wales in 2017.
Image: Kathryn Kelloway/Twitter/iStock