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Islington Council scraps bid for injunction banning begging and ASB under Stroud Green Road bridge

PUBLISHED: 13:30 16 May 2019

A rough sleeper under the bridge on Stroud Green Road. Photo: Polly Hancock

A rough sleeper under the bridge on Stroud Green Road. Photo: Polly Hancock

Archant

Islington Council has scrapped plans to seek an injunction over begging and anti-social behaviour under the Stroud Green Road bridge, the Gazette can reveal.

The fencing was installed in Stroud Green Road while lights are repaired. Picture: Sam GelderThe fencing was installed in Stroud Green Road while lights are repaired. Picture: Sam Gelder

The town hall has said it will instead look at other ways to tackle issues in Finsbury Park, but will still be seeking injunctions against individuals who frequent the bridge underpass.

The Gazette revealed plans for the injunction in February, with the council saying the measure would help "encourage people to engage with the support being offered to them, whilst also addressing the issues in the area."

It initially included a ban on rough sleeping, but days after it was submitted to the High Court the council withdrew that element because of a backlash from its partners who work in outreach, including Streets Kitchen.

Beds have reappeared under the bridge recently, despite obstructive fences being installed while lighting is fixed. Last night there were at least three people set up there, one of whom had a sofa.

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In its application for the "area based injunction", the council said there were "several people" regularly found in the area who are "extremely vulnerable and seriously at risk".

It stated all of these people either had accommodation or had repeatedly been offered help, but returned to the area to use drugs. The council, which consulted police about the injunction, said they were in danger and were being targeted by drug dealers, and that one person had already been stabbed.

Locals had also reported increasing levels of "theft, intimidation, aggressive begging and other anti-social behaviour" in the area.

Over the last two years the council has housed 34 people who were rough sleeping, mostly under the bridge. Jeremy Corbyn commented on the situation last year, saying homelessness in Finsbury Park was the worst he'd seen in almost 50 years living there. David Lammy, whose constituency is on the other side of the road, has also spoken out about it.

Thousands of people walk under the bridge every day on their way to and from Finsbury Park station, and have done since the Wells Terrace exit at the back of the station closed in July 2016.

It was then that more beggars and rough sleepers began to arrive in the area, setting up shelters resembling bedrooms.

The council says these are unsafe both for them and others as the urine and faeces is extremely unsanitary and they bring a "significant public health risk". One man survived a fire in his shelter, which burnt down while he was inside.

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