Legal victory for Manchester homeless camp
There was a major legal victory for the Manchester homeless camp today in its long running battle with the city council.
A court dismissed two applications made against members of the camp, with the judge accusing the council of "serious failures to comply with the rules".
Seven people were accused of breaching an injunction which bans them from sleeping in tents in the city centre in protest against the council's homeless policy.
The camp deny they are protesting but say they feel safer sleeping together in tents rather than on park benches or in shop doorways.
The council brought an application against them which could have seen them face up to two years in prison, together with a second application for possession of a piece of land on Oxford Road.
The original injunction still stands but the council will need to provide proper evidence of how the group have breached it if they wish to bring more proceedings against them.
Speaking after the hearing, a member of the camp and one of the defendants, Ryan McPhee, said he was happy about the decision but feared the council would continue their fight against the group.
"They [the council] wont give up, I feel attacked by all sides. The other day someone threw a brick at my tent and today I'm fighting the council," he said.
"I wish they would supply us with a building and let us run our own homeless shelter alongside their services. We know what rough sleepers need better than any council or charity does."
The council has been ordered to pay the cost of the three defence teams instructed on the case.
Simon Pook of Robert Lizar solicitors, who is representing McPhee, welcomed the judge's decision.
"Homelessness can happen to anyone, there must be other ways to assist those who are street homeless rather than through the court system," he said.
"An application to send someone to prison is a very serious matter and must never be taken lightly."