“Shameful” anti-homeless signs were plastered around Louth on Sunday, provoking widespread condemnation and disgust from the public.
The signs are believed to have been placed in various locations around the town on Sunday afternoon.
One such sign, outside the Trinity Centre in Eastgate stated ‘Homeless not welcome’, was condemned as appalling, shameful and disgusting from members of the local community.
Other signs bearing similar messages were dotted around the town, including ‘refuse to help the homeless’ in Newmarket and ‘give a dog a home, give the homeless the elbow’ outside Sessions House in Eastgate.
A Lincolnshire Police spokesperson told the Leader on Monday that the anti-homeless signs constitute “an exclusionary activity against a group” and would therefore be considered under hate crime legislation.
The spokesperson added that no calls or formal complaints had been received so far, but that the matter would be looked into further if one of the signs were to be handed in at Louth Police Station.
A further statement speculated that the signs could have been intended to make an ironic political point against the supposed lack of support for homeless people in the area, following a heated debate about the issue on social media over the weekend.
Town Councillor David Hall discovered the ‘Homeless not welcome’ sign attached to the railings outside the Trinity Centre at 4pm on Sunday, and said that Trinity staff members was horrified when they were informed.
Coun Hall added: “It’s absolutely awful to think that anybody in our community could do something like this.”
Trinity Centre administrator Ian Miles said: “We have no idea who put the sign up, or what their angle was when they put it up.
“The Trinity Centre supports many people, some of whom are homeless, and we host the Community Larder food bank here so I imagine that is why someone has decided to put the sign up outside our building.”
Reverend Nick Brown added: “Homelessness is not welcome - but homeless people certainly are. The Church will always respond to those in need. That’s not only from a faith perspective, but a common sense perspective.”
Following the discovery of the sign, Louth resident Ros Jackson posted a message on Twitter saying: “I‘m disgusted by the sick ‘Homeless not welcome’ sign hung in Louth today. I hope the culprit is ashamed of their inhumanity.”
The tweet prompted a response from district and county councillor Sarah Dodds, who branded the sign “appalling and shameful”, and a reply from Move Louth Forward activist Jason Garrett who added: “It’s disgusting, everyone deserves a chance”.
Paul Jackman, from the East Coast Homeless Outreach (ECHO), said he had been told about six signs dotted around Louth but he believes that they were intended to “show up” the district council following allegations of inaction on Facebook.
He said: “I think it’s a campaign against the council, rather than a literal attack on the homeless.
“There’s been a lot of heated debate kicking off online and attacking councillors, and it’s all blown up. We can only resolve homelessness if councillors see it, rather than silly, underhanded tactics.
“It’s nothing to do with ECHO. These signs have upset people and it’s upset the Community Larder, and it hinders the campaign to help homeless people in our area.”