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.