06:32PM, Wednesday 30 January 2019
Homeless people who have been camping in a town centre churchyard will be ordered to leave over complaints of uncontrolled fires and defecating and urinating on graves.
The tent dwellers living in land outside St Mary’s Church are due to be served notice to leave tomorrow (Thursday) by Slough Borough Council (SBC).
The notice follows complaints and evidence of pitching tents on graves, memorial plaques and monuments, leaving residents unable to visit their lost loved ones.
SBC says campers have left faeces and urinated on graves and have lit uncontrolled fires which have damaged burial sites and memorials.
Other grievances include public drinking and drug taking and littering.
People from the camp will have until Monday, February 4 to remove all tents and other belongings.
Any tents and materials still on site by 9am will be removed and destroyed.
SBC enforcement team leader Ian Blake said: “The church has been patient for a very long time but the behaviour by the people living in these tents, and the tents themselves, are having a severe and detrimental effect on the area and on the relatives of those buried at St. Mary’s.
“We have been undertaking intensive outreach work with the people in the tents but they have been unwilling to change their behaviour or access any of the services we have sign posted them to.
“The most recent fire where grave sites and memorials were deliberately placed in the fire was the point where we all had to say no more.”
The council’s lead member for regulatory services Cllr Pavitar Mann (Lab, Britwell and Northborough) said: “We all feel heart-sore at the plight of some of our homeless residents and the circumstances that have driven them to camp in this way.
“However, there are multiple organisations who are there to help, and that we have signposted them to, but unfortunately nothing has changed.
“Churchyards are hallowed ground and do not deserve to be disrespected in this way. We need to take action to protect the resting places of those who have come before us.”
The formal notice also gives the homeless campers the names and addresses of organisations where they can get help with homelessness and health and addiction issues.
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