A recent trend by London businesses and luxury residences to install spikes on the walkways adjacent to their buildings in order to prevent homeless people from sleeping there has stirred up controversy. The hostile move has drawn sharp criticism, and in some places the spikes have been withdrawn, but new reports indicate that use of the spikes will soon proliferate.
New benches covered with metal spikes which prevent people from sitting on them will soon be installed in rich neighbourhoods in the British capital in order to prevent homeless people from lying down on them. The privately-owned benches will operate on a “Sit & Pay” system, with the metal spikes receding into the bench’s wooden planks after a 50 pence coin is inserted into a slot. The coin’s insertion also activates a timer, and just before the allotted time is up, a short warning beep is heard to alert the user that the spikes are about to re-emerge.
The benches’ designer, German artist Fabian Brunsing, insists that there is no plan to manufacture or install “Sit & Pay” benches, and that the benches are part of a macabre art installation that he created back in 2008. Either way, time waits for no man, and the attitude that says that, not unlike pigeons and rats, homeless people are a problem that must be gotten rid of, is one that is rapidly taking hold. British critics of this phenomenon often note that there are 700,000 homes in the United Kingdom which currently stand empty. So the question remains: Why are there any homeless people at all in the U.K.?