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TODAY'S OTHER NEWS

30,000 sign anti-Foxtons petition over homeless spikes

Another day, another story about Foxtons. This time the protest is against the London estate agency chain installing so-called ‘anti-homeless spikes’ at its Holborn branch.

Bromley paralegal Zahira Patel - who blogs on homelessness and human rights issues for the Huffington Post - has set up an online petition to urge Foxtons to remove the spikes, which are pointed elements which deter people lying on top. So far there are well over 30,000 signatories.

“Sadly, this is yet another move in a long line of ‘defensive architecture’ aimed at deterring homeless people from sleeping in highly visible places. At a time when more than 8 million of us are reported (one in three workers) to be 1 payday away from not being able to pay for our mortgages or rent and homelessness is rising rapidly, we cannot simply push the homeless out of sight” she has written on the petiton website, change.org.

“If we as a society are so uncomfortable at the sight of homeless people outside our stores, business and in public places, let's work towards getting them the help and housing they need instead of sweeping them away to the dark corners of our city” she writes.

Patel says similar petitions against similar spikes have been successful in the recent past and it looks like the same thing has happened now. Foxtons issued a statement saying: “We understand that the studs outside our West End office have raised some concerns within the community and we will be removing them shortly.”

Last year Tesco felt obliged to remove spikes after various protests at one of its central London stores. And London Mayor Boris Johnson’s tweet of opposition to homeless spikes on a development in Southwark last year - supported by over 130,000 people signing an online petition - was successful in getting the spikes removed from outside a building owned by Property Partners. 

In recent days, Foxtons has been in the news - again - this time over its allegedly high charges to landlord clients, and separately over its proposals to use a former pub as an office.

  • icon

    I assume these are being removed with extreme haste, then?

  • Clive Bryant

    All this just looks like self promotional material and the link to the name Foxtons is probably more about self promotion rather than anything else. Lets face it if it was outside your front door and your business what would you do. This is really about deeper issues in society and not about blaming one company for everything that is wrong in the world. We all need to be prepared to pay a lot more tax if we really want to help these people make a fresh start in society and i think we should! I also think Big companies should pay their tax in the country that earns them their income. Not rocket science really.

  • Rob  Davies

    Blimey, they've had a shocking couple of weeks from a PR perspective. Then again, their in-house team must be pretty expert at it, they have to deflect bad press and negative headlines on a nearly weekly basis.

    Thing is, I really don't think they care that much. They'll plough on, being obnoxious and superior, until their profits start to slide to drastic levels. Then they might have a rethink.

    It's a slippery slope when your brand becomes completely toxic, though. Just look at the struggle of Tesco. Blackberry too. McDonald's even, to a certain extent. All big players who haven't posted great results in recent years. If Foxtons carry on with this path, they could be heading into dangerous territory.

  • Algarve  Investor

    I'd like to share your optimism, Rob. But I can't see it happening, sadly.

    They're too big and have got too much sway to just disappear in a puff of smoke. Whatever you think of them, people do use them (usually people with a fair bit of money in very affluent areas), and I fear that won't change no matter how many PR blunders they commit.

    They have become the estate agent everyone loves to hate, but they seem to revel in that title. They seem to see it as a badge of honour. They must have known the storm this move would cause - to me, it was a calculated and cynical ploy to garner more publicity. That's what they thrive off, self-promotion and the idea that all publicity is good publicity.

    Hopefully that comes back to bite them in the future, not that I'm holding my breath for such an eventuality.

  • Daniel Roder

    Agreed, Clive. They crave all publicity, good or bad, but I'm not sure on this occasion they were trying to be deliberately provocative.

    Unfortunately, given their reputation (which they've only themselves to blame for), people see this as Foxtons sticking two fingers up to the poor. That's the way it comes across. "Homeless people? Outside our office? Pfft, we can't be having that. Install some spikes to keep them away!"

    I don't think many people, if they were being totally truthful, would want a homeless person sleeping rough outside their office, place of work or home. But because of what Foxtons stands for, and because of their relentless expansion plans and this idea of them being the face of everything that is wrong with greedy estate agents and the modern world, they were always going to cop a lot of criticism for such a move.

    It isn't Foxtons fault that people are homeless - although some might argue they are part of the problem, by helping to make house prices and rents (especially in London) sky-high - but moves like this just smack of an arrogant, uncaring, "not my problem" kind of attitude.

  • Tom  Harrington

    Yes I agree @Clive the issue is much bigger than Foxton's but they are certainly not helping their reputation in the slightest. Surely they must have know that this would cause a stir, after the previous disputes that these spikes have caused. Whoever is in charge of their PR needs serious questioning, although if I'm entirely honest I'm not sure they care too much about their reputation, just profit.

  • Michael Lamoureux

    Brilliant stroke of PR genius. Here's one for free Foxtons- try running a current through the shop shutters , some BBQ window shoppers would definitely get you on the front page!

  • Michael Lamoureux

    On a serious note I totally agree with Clive Bryant, however its not tax hikes which will solve the problem it is a reverse in political will of our beloved leaders and their pay masters.

  • Felicity Blair

    Foxton's, Foxton's, Foxton's, when will they learn? How long do you think it will be until the next PR blunder?

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