The hot topic of conversation amongst my friends last week was the apparent news that those who sleep rough on pavements in the town could be hit with a fine of £100.
However according to a statement published on the Wycombe District Council website it now seems that such measures may not be coming into force, at least not immediately (if ever), as the Council ‘can’t issue any fixed penalty notices anyway, because [they] don’t currently have any orders or notices in place‘.
Naturally the issue of homelessness is always going to be an emotive topic indeed over the years Wycombe has grown to be a town that is very sympathetic to the needs of those without a home and a large support network has built up to help rehabilitate them.
When the cold weather of winter arrives those down on their luck flock to Wycombe in order to avail themselves of the help our town offers. In fact when the temperatures drop Wycombe has literally become a tramp magnet.
Of course the rough sleepers are most likely to be found in the High Street and older parts of the town centre.
You will be hard pressed to find a gentleman of the road (or should that be pavement?) in the new shopping complex as the private security guards ‘move them on’ so the well to do and affluent are not upset by their presence when they visit Wycombe to buy their luxury goods.
The bizarre situation has arisen that while those down on their luck are tolerated in some parts of the town they are not wanted in other parts of town.
So should the rough sleepers be fined for spending an night on the pavements of Wycombe?
Well, personally I think help should be offered in preference to a penalty notice but if anyone refuses help then more stringent actions needs to be taken, including fines or even imprisonment, to ensure the ambience of Wycombe is not ruined by those who think the pavement is a fit place to sleep.
However rather than worrying about the homeless, who by and large don’t cause much trouble, the powers that be should be using their powers to introduce fines for those who cause nuisance through bonfires, parking on the pavement, blocking driveways and other nuisances that blight the daily lives of the people of Wycombe.
Sadly the homeless are an easy target and in a society driven by money, power and greed those at the lower end of the social scale are always going to picked upon first.
What do you think?
*My next blog will be published on Friday evening around 8pm here on the WycombeToday.com website.