“We have been dismayed by the recent story in the Bath Chronicle (‘Empty shop doorways in central Bath boarded up to tackle ‘objectionable’ homeless sleepers’) which misrepresents why vacant shop units in Bath are being dressed by the Bath Business Improvement District (BID). It is not to tackle homeless sleepers as the story suggests, but rather is part of a wider and already publicised strategy of minimising the visual impact of vacant shop units in the city centre.
The Bath BID board sympathises with the plight of the city’s homeless and is committed to a concerted and ethical multi-agency approach of offering help and support. We certainly do not consider genuinely homeless people to be ‘objectionable’ and we certainly do not support any idea that homelessness is a ‘lifestyle choice’. With many ex-servicemen and women living rough, the Bath BID rejects any such suggestions.
Like most towns and cities, Bath does have an issue with anti-social behaviour, but that is often not directly connected with homelessness. However, anti-social behaviour can often be wrongly attributed to homelessness on those occasions that it occupies the same spaces. Habitual aggressive professional begging certainly is objectionable and we support all efforts to address this problem, but the Bath BID does not make an automatic connection between professional begging, anti-social behaviour and homelessness.
The boarding and dressing of vacant shop fronts serves several purposes, including aesthetic, marketing and security. It cannot be denied that boarding a shop front makes it difficult or impossible for rough sleepers, but that is certainly not the primary reason the Bath BID is investing in these improvements.
The Bath BID Company and Bath BID Board would like to distance itself from opinions stated in this article.”
Maeve England, Chairman of the Bath Business Improvement District (Bath BID)