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Norwich man allows rough sleepers to camp in garden during snow - but now they won’t leave

PUBLISHED: 06:00 10 March 2018 | UPDATED: 09:38 11 March 2018

Martin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden.
Picture: Nick Butcher

Martin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden. Picture: Nick Butcher

Archant © 2018

A Norwich man who allowed two rough sleepers to temporarily camp in his garden during bad weather says they are now refusing to budge.

Martin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden.
Picture: Nick ButcherMartin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden. Picture: Nick Butcher

Martin Verney said the two men erected a tent in the garden to the back of his flat on Fishergate on February 27 this year.

The 56-year-old said he initially allowed them to stay as the Beast from the East weather front caused temperatures to plummet across the region.

But when he asked them to leave this week – due to the weather improving – he claims one of the rough sleepers threatened him and refused to move.

Mr Verney, who says he suffers from anxiety and depression, said: “I feel like they are being disrespectful because I gave them leeway when the snow was bad.

Martin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden.
Picture: Nick ButcherMartin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden. Picture: Nick Butcher

“I just asked them not to c*** anywhere, which they didn’t, and then when the weather improved to move on.

“But they weren’t very nice to me when I approached them.

“I said ‘come on lads, time to go’ and they said ‘if you touch my stuff, we will do you for criminal damage.”

Mr Verney, who has lived in his flat for 20 years, said he contacted the police and Norwich City Council about the issue.

Martin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden.
Picture: Nick ButcherMartin Verney from Fishergate, Norwich has homeless people living in his back garden. Picture: Nick Butcher

A spokesman for Norfolk Police said the issue was a civil matter and said it was the local authority’s responsibility.

The city council, meanwhile, said it served a seven-day “miscellaneous provisions notice” on the tent on Thursday, March 8.

A spokesman said: “If the tent is still in place after the seven days has passed it will be removed, along with any contents, as it will then become council property.”

A letter from the council, which was placed outside the tent, stated the occupiers have until 4pm on March 15 to leave.

Mr Verney said he often helped maintain the garden, which is council-owned and shared by other flat users.

He added that he uses the area to practice Tai Chi.

“I’ve got severe anxiety and depression,” Mr Verney said. “I’ve had it for a long time and I’m able to manage it now.

“But when things like this happen, it aggravates it, and I admit I don’t always react well.”

As of Friday, March 9, the black tent remained in place. The two rough sleepers were not inside.

• Do you have a crime problem in your area? Email luke.powell@archant.co.uk


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