Clover Moore says homeless camp in Sydney's Martin Place will be moved

Those living in tents will be relocated to safe places as early as Tuesday and a new permanent facility built, city’s lord mayor says

The homeless camp in Martin Place could be moved as early as Tuesday after the lord mayor of Sydney, Clover Moore, announced a plan to relocate the camp to new safe spaces, including in the inner city suburb of Redfern.

Those spaces will be used while a more permanent facility is constructed. However the plan will still require the voluntary agreement of those camped in Martin Place, and it is understood the council is still reluctant to force anyone to move on.

Moore’s announcement brings an end to the stalemate between the council and the state government, which prompted angry words with the premier, Gladys Berejiklian.

The plan, which includes $100,000 in funding from the council, was announced as the council met on Monday evening.

“Relieved to say we’ve negotiated a peaceful resolution to the crisis in #MartinPlace after my meetings today with [camp mayor] Lanz Priestley & Premier,” Moore tweeted on Monday evening.

Earlier on Monday, Priestley, who had acted as the camp’s unofficial mayor, said the group wanted to move on, but would not do so until a permanent solution to their housing crisis was found.

Priestley told Guardian Australia any attempt to forcibly remove the camp would look bad politically for Berejiklian.

He was expected to meet with police on Monday, while Berejiklian and Moore held last minute talks to attempt to broker an agreement.

The mayor said on Monday she had been “extremely concerned” about threats of heavy-handed action.

Moore called on Berejiklian to help her construct a longer-term solution.

“Mr Priestley agreed to dismantle tents in #martinplace if 24/7 communal safe space established in city centre while permanent space developed,” she tweeted.

Moore had previously refused to force those camping in Martin Place to leave without a guarantee of new long-term housing for the homeless and an extension of a levy on developers to build such housing.

She also wanted to extend an affordable housing levy across the city.

The NSW government had been reluctant to use its own powers to move the camp, granted under the Crown Lands Act. Instead it publicly and privately put pressure on Moore to act.

“Many of her demands are views that I share and we will absolutely be able to respond positively to the lord mayor,” the social housing minister, Pru Goward, said last week.

“What I am very disappointed about is that the lord mayor’s preference for us to use the Crown Lands Act … we would need to go to court, we would need to issue warrants after a protracted process to vulnerable homeless people. I don’t think anybody wants that.”


Christopher Knaus

The GuardianTramp

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