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Ugly protest

PUBLISHED: 14:05 09 November 2007 | UPDATED: 08:54 21 July 2010

Kelly Minio, 26, protests outside Hackney town hall

Kelly Minio, 26, protests outside Hackney town hall

COUNCILLORS arriving at the town hall last Wednesday were greeted by about 60 protesters and accusations that Hackney s Homeless Persons Unit was failing in its statutory duty to provide emergency housing...

COUNCILLORS arriving at the town hall last Wednesday were greeted by about 60 protesters and accusations that Hackney's Homeless Persons Unit was failing in its statutory duty to provide emergency housing.

The London Coalition Against Poverty (LCAP) organised the demonstration on the town hall steps and in the public gallery during the full council meeting, dressed in Hallowe'en outfits

One person was arrested for breach of the peace as the group tried to get through the front doors of the building in Mare Street, Hackney, rather than use the side entrance to the public gallery.

At the meeting, LCAP claimed the council was using a gatekeeping policy to allocate housing, leaving many vulnerable people and families on the street.

Kelly Marie, from LCAP, said that the office was delaying and in some cases denying homeless people their legal right to a roof over their heads.

"They send them away saying they have to come back with more documentation or sleep on the streets for one more week," she said.

"They are trying to fob people off. People who have been staying in abusive and violent household are told they have to go to the police to get a crime reference number before they can use the services. Largely, they cannot do that and should not have to do that."

The group has been distributing leaflets outside the unit on Wilton Way, Hackney, since July this year, informing homeless people of their rights.

Kelly added: "We have experienced abuse by the staff there time and time again and been humiliated."

A Hackney Council spokesman said: "Like all housing authorities, Hackney is committed to ensuring residents receive a high-quality service and can only make decisions in accordance with strict criteria laid down by law. This group's repeated accusations and disruptive approach can only complicate an already immensely sensitive issue for those seeking the council's help.

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