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Tory Councillor Kathryn Kelloway posted a tweet calling on Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas to “tear down these tents” on Queens Street in Cardiff City Centre.
Accompanying Kelloway’s tweet was a picture of her standing in front of numerous tents containing homeless people sheltering from the freezing winter weather.
“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.”
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
Unsurprisingly, Kelloway’s astonishingly callous tweet sparked a huge backlash, with the Councillor being branded “disgusting“, a “disgrace”, and even an “inhuman f*cking Tory monster“.
Former Welsh Rugby Star, Gareth Thomas, replied to Kelloway’s tweet, stating:
“You make me sick. I have friends who live in tents there and the circumstances that brought them there and keeping them there are terrible.”
Whilst another Twitter user claimed that Kelloway’s tweet and picture showed “a criminal posing at the scene of their own crime“.
Responding to Kelloway’s demands, Cardiff Council leader Huw Thomas tweeted:
“An awfully judged tweet. 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.”
“Small wonder homelessness is soaring under this Tory Government, if ‘tearing down tents’ is their mindset”.
An awfully judged tweet. 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. Small wonder homelessness is soaring under this Tory Gov, if 'tearing down tents' is their mindset
— Huw Thomas (@huwthomas_Wales) January 24, 2019
Despite the backlash, Kelloway has doggedly refused to delete her tweet, instead insisting she was grateful that the extra attention had “managed to raise attention of this important issue“.
Kelloway went on to say that:
“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”
“I know there are enough spaces in hostels for these people and it is a failure of policy that they are allowed to live in tents instead of using services.”
“Why should every business in the city centre, and every visitor, have to be met with the consequences of a problem that doesn’t need to exist? There are enough beds for rough sleepers in our hostels. There is no need for tents.”
According to a council scrutiny meeting, 24 new rough sleepers are appearing on Cardiff’s streets every month.
Cardiff council have stated that there is enough space in emergency overnight accommodation to meet demand, but some rough sleepers have raised issues about the safety of the accommodation.