A statement from councillor Linda Smith, deputy leader and cabinet member for leisure and housing:
These arm rests were not installed by Oxford City Council or Oxford Direct Services and we are removing them today.
Arm rests on benches are part of inclusive design as they provide extra help for older people and people with mobility issues, making it easier for them to sit and stand up again. This bench already has three arm rests.
We believe that nobody should have to sleep rough in Oxford and we’re doing more than ever before to tackle the national homelessness crisis. We provide more than 200 beds for people experiencing rough sleeping, including a new winter shelter available to anyone. Last week we opened a new assessment hub and shelter in Floyds Row. Floyds Row was co-designed by people experiencing homelessness and will provide the shelter and support people need to get off the streets more quickly and rebuild their lives.
We’re planning to spend £7.4 million on preventing and reducing homelessness in 2020/21 and are transforming the way we deliver services. We’re also working collaboratively with NHS partners and Oxfordshire’s five other councils to develop a countywide approach to tackling homelessness that will focus on prevention, early intervention and moving people on from rough sleeping.
On top of the services we provide Oxford’s churches offer 20 beds a night for people experiencing rough sleeping through the Oxford Winter Night Shelter (OWNS). OWNS is open to anybody and access to our services and OWNS beds is through the outreach and assessment team, OxSPOT.
If you’re concerned about somebody at risk of or experiencing rough sleeping, please call OxSPOT on 01865 243229.