Winter is definitely on the way. It’s so dark when one gets home in the evening indeed the other day my central heating came on for the first time this year.
In Wycombe colder weather means one thing, the town will be a magnet for gentlemen of the road, down and outs, vagrants, tramps or whatever you wish to call them.
Only yesterday my good self was making my down the High Street to eat my sandwiches when I spotted a ‘freeman’ approaching from the other direction.
By ‘freeman’ I am of course referring to a tramp, however in Wycombe they are generally called ‘freemen’ because in some parts of town they are free to do whatever they want and nobody tries to stop them.
Naturally, upon seeing the approaching ‘freeman’, my good self crossed to the other side of the road in order to avoid the usual advances for money and the like.
At the end of White Hart Street close to Bull Lane and you will usually find a ‘freeman’ sitting on the pavement begging for money. Look down any side alley off the High Street and you will find cardboard boxes, blankets and other signs that a ‘freeman’ had been there recently.
Let’s face it Wycombe has a problem with people sleeping rough on the streets in winter.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not making fun of those down on their luck, far from it. In fact I think homelessness is a topic that needs further discussion.
Over the years Wycombe has developed proficient support organisations to help alleviate the problem. However the support is so good that as soon as the weather turns colder the homeless flock to Wycombe from other towns to avail themselves of a free meal and overnight shelter.
The fact is that Wycombe has become a magnet for the homeless for miles around, even from nearby towns. In fact things have gone so far that some refer to Wycombe as a winter holiday destination for the homeless.
While the influx of the homeless has some benefits such as making it much easier to purchase of copy of The Big Issue, I fear we are taking on the problems of other towns, even from as far afield as West London. Surely this is wrong? Not from a humanitarian aspect but from a logistical aspect.
There is a train of thought that if the support provided wasn’t so good we wouldn’t have so many unfortunates in the town to start with.
Now, I hear you say that it would be outrageous to scale back efforts to help those in need, but just look at the way homeless people are treated in the new shopping complex.
The complex has private security guards keeping watch to move the gentlemen of the road swiftly away. You don’t see any homeless setting up for a nights sleep outside any of the high class boutiques in the new shopping centre or in front of the department store do you?
However anyone can settle down for a night’s kip in the Parish Churchyard.
This just shows the double standards shown to the unfortunates in Wycombe. It also shows that Wycombe can so no if it chooses to.
We must think of out towns prosperity, if the older part of town is to be rejuvenated maybe there are lessons to be learnt about discouraging the homeless from settling in the High Street area?
What do you think?
*My next blog will be published on Friday evening around 8pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.