10th Dec, 2019

Coventry homeless man has 'begging' fine rescinded after public support

Felix Nobes 16th Jul, 2019

A HOMELESS man has been fined for ‘begging’ in Coventry city centre – but has had it rescinded after public support.

Coventry City Council has been criticised by residents for issuing a £60 fine to Gary Cannop, who sleeps in an alley off Smithford Way.

After a campaign spearheaded by homelessness campaigner Paul Curtis, the council rescinded Gary’s fine and offered him a four-week trial as a street cleaner in the city centre.

The council is also working with the Salvation Army to secure him a roof over his head.

Paul has been appealing for donations to put down a deposit on a new place for Gary to stay.

He says so far more than £1,300 has been raised, including £800 on a fundraising page.

Former construction worker Gary – known for donning his beloved Celtic shirt – has been supported by scores of residents posting on social media.

Many commented on his kind and polite nature, sharing heartwarming stories of encounters with him.

People visiting the city centre walk past his distinctive makeshift shelter and bookcase.

Cabinet member for jobs and regeneration Jim O’Boyle said in an email to councillors: “Paul told me about Gary and said where he has set up his little camp and how he keeps the area clean.

“On Saturday morning I spoke with Paul and also personally went to see Gary in his tent.

“I told him council officers would be in touch this week and that the fine would be rescinded.

“I understand he would be offered a trial but clearly he would have to move into suitable accommodation.”

Mr Curtis said on Facebook: “Any money collected will be given to Gary for a deposit on his own accommodation and hopefully a month’s rent until we can get him back on his feet and doing a job he would love to do cleaning the streets in the city centre.”

A Coventry council spokesperson said: “There is a Public Space Protection Order in place for the city centre.

“This gives the council powers to fine people for aggressive begging.

“We can confirm that the fine in question is in the process of being cancelled.”

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