Revealed: Legal issues of Harrogate's 'tent village'

The arrival of the mini ‘tented village’ at the back of Primark in the heart of Harrogate's shopping area has brought the sensitive question of street begging into the open.

Friday, 28th June 2019, 2:05 pm
One of the tents street beggars have erected at the back of Primark Store on Oxford Street in Harrogate.

Controversy in Harrogate over the growth of visible street begging in the town’s shop doorways and alleyways continues to be an issue.The new message from bodies which provide support for those sleeping rough such as Harrogate Borough Council, Harrogate Homeless Project and North Yorkshire Horizons (drug and alcohol recovery service) is not to give cash directly to street beggars.Instead, the advice is to give cash to the charities who help the town’s homeless on a daily basis.

A major supporter of the new approach on street begging is Harrogate Homeless Project, which runs a 16-bed hostel for adults and also a five-bed emergency bed scheme, where overnight shelter and support is provided.

As public concern has risen, it has been keen to stress that persuading some people to seek help is not always easy.For those who are not willing to access emergency shelter, HHP also offers sleeping bags and warm clothing as well as warm snacks and drinks overnight from its hostel on Bower Street.

Some readers have asked the Harrogate Advertiser why the police don't move them on legally, as the council does when caravans arrive on the Stray.

In the case of the latter, Harrogate Borough Council can move them on in five working days by getting a court order.

However, if the camp had turned up in a resident's back garden it would be solely the resident's legal responsibility to deal with the issue.

Harrogate Police can ask the mini 'tented village' on Oxford Street if the individual street beggars are situated on public land.

But it is believed where the tents are located at the moment at the back of Primark may be private land belonging to the store.

Possibly for fear of attracting negative publicity, Primark has been reluctant to get involved or, even, talk about the issue with the press and public.

The Harrogate Advertiser contacted Primark's several times before the national chain finally responded with a very brief and simple reply.

A national Primark spokesperson said: “We are in contact with the local police in Harrogate in relation to this matter.”

If members of the public want to help anyone they believe may be sleeping rough, they are advised to let them know that help is available from Harrogate Homeless Project, or call the HHP’s 24-hour staff team on 01423 566900 for help.