RESIDENTS of the town have been heatedly debating a decision by the council to remove a covered park bench on River Walk which has been used regularly by a homeless man.
The issue has been the subject of heated debate on social media, sparked by the fact that the donations he has received – of clothing and sleeping bags as well as food – in the recent cold snap have been piling up nearby.
The man, called Lee, used to work and have accommodation on a fruit farm owned by L Wheeler and Son in East Peckham.
It is understood that the caravan he lived in is no longer habitable and he is now not fit to work because of medical issues.
He has been offered referrals to organisations which would help to find him a home and work by Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council, but he has turned down efforts to assist him because he prefers to sleep outside.
Lee is accompanied by his dog Tosh which has been blamed for intimidating passers-by.
It is believed that both Lee and Tosh have been taken in by concerned local residents and are being well looked after.
The council justified its decision, saying: “The bench has been removed to discourage rough sleeping. Following intervention from Tonbridge & Malling Borough Council’s Housing and the Outreach team from the homeless charity Porchlight, the majority of the homeless people have been accommodated elsewhere.
“The council and Porchlight continue to work with the -remaining occupant of the previous shelter to find a pet friendly accommodation provider.
“We will continue to work with partners to help those who were at this location to ensure they have the best opportunity for finding permanent accommodation.
On a previous tweet it had stated: “The remaining -individual is not homeless and already has his own accommodation within the borough.”
The council asks residents who have any concerns about the plight of homeless people in the borough to contact its Housing Options team for advice atÂ http://socsi.in/d0hA3