Last week the owners of a block of Southwark flats came up with a radical solution for solving homelessness in London: putting spikes on the pavement outside the entrance to ‘discourage’ people from sleeping there. It looked like something out of Alice Cooper’s wardrobe. Boris Johnson criticised them, the leader of Southwark Council attended a protest against them and eventually anti-spike fervour spread so far that protestors poured concrete over a similarly studded Tesco window ledge (which the shop claims was to stop people sitting there). Both sets of spikes have since been removed.
The whole thing smacks of a very London version of the ‘not in my backyard’ attitude known as ‘nimbyism’. Although we guess the rallying cry would be more like: ‘Not in nondescript, corporate-owned, miserable pieces of our pavement!’ Or, if you will, ‘nincompoopism’.
Still, why stop there? This is the human version of anti-pigeon spikes. So if we’re going to treat the homeless like vermin, let’s go the whole hog. Here are a few ideas that we’re amazed haven’t been put forward before:
Like Robocop, but his only job is to drive homeless people out of London. Sure, such a man-machine would be humongously expensive. But, hey, who cares about cost when you’re all snuggled up in bed knowing there are no rough sleepers within miles of your nice warm house?
People walking around in very loud clogs all night
Have you ever tried to sleep while a wooden-shod cavalcade galumphs up and down past your head? Of course you haven’t. You’ve never been the victim of an antihomeless, hobnailed clogmob.
Few things in the world are as indiscriminate as hungry tigers. If we unleash them upon London streets in their hundreds (assuming that there are that many left in the world), they’ll chomp up anyone with the temerity to be outdoors after 10.30pm.
Actually donating some money to a homeless charity
Or maybe, if we try to address the root causes of homelessness, there might just be fewer people on the streets. Which would mean less people needing to sleep in doorways. Plus, it would be the sensitive and humane thing to do. Sorry, what were we thinking? It would never work. Bring forth the giant homeless kebab skewers!
Find out how you can actually help at shelter.org.uk.