Express & Star

Former Tory demands Sandwell MPs vote against 'dehumanising' fining of homeless and smelly

A former Conservative councillor is so disgusted with Government plans to fine homeless people for being unkempt and smelly he has launched a petition to pressure Sandwell's four MPs to vote against the bill.

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Councillor Jay Anandou

Old Warley Independent Councillor Jay Anandou is disturbed how the most vulnerable people in society will be targeted with fines they will have no hope of paying.

Councillor Anandou wants two former Tory colleagues, Sandwell Conservative MPs Nicola Richards and Shaun Bailey, and Labour's John Spellar, to vote against the Criminal Justice Bill as it passes through Parliament.

After first being published the Bill was branded the "smelly law". Draft legislation cited fines for “nuisance rough sleeping” and the definition of 'nuisance' includes 'excessive smells'.

Councillor Anandou, who previously has praised 'compassionate Conservatism' believes the new bill has the opposite approach by 'dehumanising' the homeless and signals the return of 'the Nasty Party'.

Until January Councillor Anandou was the Sandwell Conservative Federation chairman until Conservative central office sacked him after he told the Express & Star Sandwell Tory group leader Councillor David Fisher had been sacked.

He said: "Criminalising homelessness with a fine of up to £2,500 and a jail term will not help solve the problem. Homelessness is not a choice, these people need help not to be made criminals."

Councillor Anandou's Change petition has garnered more than 400 signatures ahead of the next Parliamentary vote in May.

Several Sandwell residents backed Councillor Anandou's stance on the new bill.

Gary Carpmail said: "A ridiculous and unworkable idea. Also a very nasty one. These people should be helped and supported, not criminalised."

Amanda Mellor added: "Wish they could use their noggins for once, How the hell are homeless people gunna be able to pay a fine.Am I thick or what?"

Sharon Smart added: "This is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard, do they think that if these unfortunate people had a choice,they would choose it to be a cold hard pavement. Get a grip."

Councillor Anandou's Change petition states: "We urge all the three Sandwell MPs to vote against the Criminal Justice Bill 2023/24 which will criminalise rough sleeping and homelessness.

"The Bill contains new powers for police and local authorities to enforce against so-called ‘nuisance rough sleeping’ in England and Wales. These powers include being moved on, a fine up to £2,500 and even imprisonment.

"None of us should be criminalised for being homeless. Poverty pushes people into homelessness and the fact that homelessness exists in 2024 is a failure of Government policy. This Bill would criminalise and dehumanise those of us that have been failed by a system that should keep all of us safe."

After the publication of the powers to fine smelly people Government ministers claimed the law should not be used to penalise pongy people.