Sheffield Council to 'listen to experts' on homelessness after campaigner ejected from meeting

Anthony Cunningham started the 'tent city' at Park Hill.
Anthony Cunningham started the 'tent city' at Park Hill.
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A Sheffield homeless campaigner was thrown out of a council meeting after shouting down a councillor during a debate about a possible night cafe.

Anthony Cunningham was asked to leave the council chamber after he repeatedly raised his voice and spoke over Coun Jayne Dunn.

The cabinet member for housing was trying to respond to Mr Cunningham's petition calling for a night cafe for the homeless and vulnerable.

The campaigner was asked to calm down but kept shouting, so was escorted out of the room by security, followed by a group of his supporters.

He had earlier implored the council to do 'something amazing', pointing out that more than 7,500 had signed his petition.

Referring to a 'scary' incident on Monday when a man carrying a petrol can threatened to set the council's Howden House building alight, he said there was 'something bubbling under the surface in this city'.

Coun Jack Clarkson

Coun Jack Clarkson

And Mr Cunningham mentioned the suspended prison sentence he was given earlier this week for growing cannabis, later shouting: "I was prepared to go to jail for this city".

After the campaigner was ejected, Coun Dunn said he was right to say there was a gap that needed plugging at weekends. But she said she had spoken to charities, health services and homeless people themselves, none of whom wanted a night cafe.

"It's these people we have been listening to," she added.

Lib Dem member Penny Baker agreed that advice should come from the experts.

Coun Jayne Dunn

Coun Jayne Dunn

"We take this need very seriously," she said.

"We will spend a bit of time. But this is something we have to get right."

UKIP's Coun Jack Clarkson said a night cafe should be considered, and a night shelter was something his party had previously suggested.

"Anthony Cunningham is right - he's out there on the coal face," he said.

"We are not looking after the vulnerable people with mental health issues in the night time. We desperately need an all-night cafe."

Councillors had already agreed to discuss Mr Cunningham's night shelter plan at a scrutiny meeting.

Mr Cunnigham, writing on Twitter after last night's meeting, said Coun Dunn had his 'full respect'.

He added: "I just hope the council is ready for what's coming over the next few years. Regardless of all this fancy investment, homelessness will rise."