By Conor McKenzie, Oxford Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Homelessness & Rough Sleeping.
Fines will never be an appropriate solution to the severe homelessness crisis in Oxford. Regardless of whether they are used or not, they are ineffective, misguided, and cruel.
Oxford City Council introduced a £1,000 homelessness fine in 2015 under a Public Space Protection Order (PSPO) which covers the centre of Oxford. This seeks to push the problem out of the centre, and out of sight of the millions of visitors Oxford welcomes every year.
Let’s be clear: Oxford’s level of homelessness is a national disgrace. Pushing it out of sight using heartless fines and demonising threats is not a solution.
The Liberal Democrats opposed the introduction of such a fine in 2015, but Labour councillors went ahead with it anyway. We now have a new crop of Labour councillors who have made clear they want a break from the past, so we look forward to working with them to scrap this fine.
With the PSPO now up for renewal, this is the right time to redouble our efforts to scrap these heartless homeless fines in Oxford.
We need compassionate solutions to the crisis on our streets. This needs to focus on putting money into the brilliant work that charities and community groups do every day, as well as providing stable and secure accommodation for those that need it while they get back on their feet.
Do you agree with us? Please sign our petition today ➡️ OxonLibDems.uk/HomelessFines
Conor McKenzie, Oxford Liberal Democrat spokesperson for Homelessness & Rough Sleeping, and Councillor Liz Wade, spokesperson for Housing, have been campaigning hard to get better support for homeless people in the city and to repeal the homeless fines.