Estate agent selling homes for £1m fits spiked ‘anti-homeless’ gate to shop

An estate agents selling homes for more than £1million has sparked outrage by fitting spiked 'anti-homeless' gates to their shop doorway.

Harvey Richards & West, which sells luxury homes in Whitstable, Kent, allegedly fitted the gates after a man and his dog started sleeping in the entrance of the Grade II listed building two weeks ago.

Locals said the man would always clear his things and move on before the business opened each morning.

A picture of the 'spiked gate' then appeared on a Facebook group for Whitstable and outraged residents flocked to condemn it as 'disgusting'.

Within five hours of the post appearing online, and after around 200 angry posts, the sheepish estate agents removed the gate.

Pat Walton, 69, who met the homeless man while shopping, said: "What a disgusting response from a business who could have done something to help him instead.

"I first saw the poor chap when I walked past him a few weeks ago.

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"I spoke to him and I said 'lovey, have you got nowhere to go?' He was really nice and told me he was supposed to be getting into a council home soon.

"He has been there for a couple of weeks. He's really tidy, he never leaves any mess. All that's there in the morning is his little bag full of his stuff.

"He's not doing anything to anyone, he cleans up, leave him alone."

After the gates were taken down, Mrs Walton said: "It was the right thing to do. People were up in arms about it."

Retired Ministry of Defence worker Mrs Walton added that the homeless man has been talking to social services and hopes to be housed in the new year.

The sharp central spike on the gate was reminiscent of the infamous 'London pavement spikes' which appeared on the floors of shop doorways in 2014 to discourage rough sleepers.

Scores commenting on Facebook were appalled by the erection of the gate and expressed 'disgust' at the estate agents.

Nicola Fenton wrote: "I was very sad to see homeless people bedding down in town in the freezing weather on a visit last week. It's the first time I've seen this happening in Whitstable.

"A sad reflection of today's society. I was heartened, however to see certain lovely townsfolk offering help and food."

Simon Digby commented: "Disgusting behaviour from the business… But what do you expect from Estate Agents?"

A spokesman for Canterbury City Council said: "We've not had a report of a gate being installed, but it is a grade II listed building and so a gate would need listed building consent and possibly planning permission.

"We are working with a number of individuals in Whitstable to try and move them into accommodation."

Harvey Richards & West were today approached for comment but have yet to respond.

Whitstable is a small seaside town on the north coast of Kent and is famous for its 'Native Oysters'.

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