City officials have lined a wall at a Kenilworth railway station parking lot with boulders to stop homeless people sleeping there.
While the measure has brought some success, reducing homeless numbers from 20 to five or six, their presence remains a concern, according to ward councillor Ian Iversen.
“What we found is that while the majority of people are vagrants, there are also criminal elements among them. Criminals use Kenilworth station as a base from which they can enter the suburb to carry out their activities. There is also a lot of prostitution going on in the area,” he said.
“Because the station has a water supply, they use the water to do their washing and cooking. This has been a real problem for us.”
Prior to the 2010 Fifa World Cup, a number of railway stations, including Kenilworth, were upgraded as part of the City’s Park and Ride programme. This allowed commuters to leave their vehicles in a secure parking area and catch public transport for the rest of their journey.
“In preparation for the World Cup, the Kenilworth parking area was upgraded and raised flower beds were built. However, the design of these structures created nooks and crannies which became sheltered areas for homeless people. Additional ratepayer funds have been spent on correcting these design faults,” Mr Iversen said.
“One of the great problems we have is that people are still driving into the parking lot to distribute food and clothing to the vagrants, which is undermining the efforts of social workers from The Haven and other homeless shelters.
“The bottom line is that there are organisations equipped to deal with the homeless. The more people who give vagrants food and clothing, the less they will turn to the shelters and we end up in this situation.”