Letter to the Editor: Sleep over just a stunt

Councillor Steve O’Connell

Councillor Steve O’Connell

First published in Letters
Last updated

Regarding Steve O’Connell’s sleepover in Wallington (United action for homeless issues August 20) I question why our local politicians seek publicity especially on a stunt like this.

Was Mr O’Connell sleeping alone on this PR exercise, I expect not.

Does he really know or understand what it is like to be homeless for just one night in Wallington?

Not exactly the homeless capital of London.

After his night in Wallington I expect he went back to his palace in Kenley (well, he does earn more than £100,000 per year from his two jobs) and had a good curry, which, I understand he is very fond off.

Do not try to fool the electorate with these stunts and get real. I understand that we have a problem with the issues of the homeless and this is best dealt with by the tremendous efforts of homeless charities, but do your real job and improve Croydon, which needs urgent attention.

                          ALAN CORLINE

                             by email

Comments (1)

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11:47pm Thu 4 Sep 14

Elliot Colburn says...

I was shocked to read Mr Corline's comments about this story, and I would like to set the record straight on a few issues.

Sorry to have to correct you, but Steve O'Connell DID NOT organise this event. That was myself and a group of other local young people. You're also a little late to the party as they say. I held this event in March 2013.

I'm particularly disgusted with two inferences you seem to be making here.

Firstly, that you view this event as a sham.

This was not a PR exercise or a stunt. Shelter is a charity that I support, and I was inspired by sleep out events that were happening all over the capital, so wanted to do one locally.

I invited local schools, religious groups, politicians from all parties, etc, and Steve was one of the very few that actually agreed and came along.

But even if this wasn't planned by myself, I find your skeptical attitude regarding politicians and charity to be deeply troubling. You seem to be suggesting that politicians shouldn't do charity, as they surely cannot really feel for this issue. However, on the back of this event, Steve asked me to help him draft a report on homelessness that he presented to City Hall, which prompted action from London Mayor Boris Johnson, and the Assembly, to tackle this growing problem in the capital.

Homelessness charities do a great job, which is why I wanted to raise money for Shelter, however, to tackle the problem, it needs action centrally and I'm proud this event prompted such a response.

You also seem shocked that Steve went home after this night on the street. Why? We all went back home, and none of us suddenly had the burning urge to become homeless, quite the reverse. So Steve went home, goes to work, earns money, spends money he earns through that work, etc, the same as quite a lot of people last time I checked. You may disagree with me, but I don't think Steve giving up his home, work and life to become homeless would do much to help him do his 'real job' and 'improve Croydon'. Steve O'Connell is London Assembly Member for Croydon AND Sutton, so do excuse me if we see him from time to time. I also wonder if your concerns are less to do with charity, and more with the party that Steve is elected to?

Secondly, your comments regarding Wallington as not being 'exactly the homeless capital of London.'

Not that it particularly matters, but I did originally wish to do this in Croydon or Sutton High Streets, but for our own safety, the police highly advised us to take it to Wallington as they could not offer round the clock protection, which in turn would be counterproductive as homeless people have little to no protection.

However, you're suggestion that homelessness in the London Borough of Sutton is insignificant is repugnant. Applications for emergency accommodation, and the number of reported rough sleepers have been growing rapidly in Sutton in recent years, and Wallington specifically has had homeless people sleeping rough on the High Street.

So thank you for belittling my efforts. I do hope you never have to become homeless yourself and wonder why no-one is there to help you back on your feet.
I was shocked to read Mr Corline's comments about this story, and I would like to set the record straight on a few issues. Sorry to have to correct you, but Steve O'Connell DID NOT organise this event. That was myself and a group of other local young people. You're also a little late to the party as they say. I held this event in March 2013. I'm particularly disgusted with two inferences you seem to be making here. Firstly, that you view this event as a sham. This was not a PR exercise or a stunt. Shelter is a charity that I support, and I was inspired by sleep out events that were happening all over the capital, so wanted to do one locally. I invited local schools, religious groups, politicians from all parties, etc, and Steve was one of the very few that actually agreed and came along. But even if this wasn't planned by myself, I find your skeptical attitude regarding politicians and charity to be deeply troubling. You seem to be suggesting that politicians shouldn't do charity, as they surely cannot really feel for this issue. However, on the back of this event, Steve asked me to help him draft a report on homelessness that he presented to City Hall, which prompted action from London Mayor Boris Johnson, and the Assembly, to tackle this growing problem in the capital. Homelessness charities do a great job, which is why I wanted to raise money for Shelter, however, to tackle the problem, it needs action centrally and I'm proud this event prompted such a response. You also seem shocked that Steve went home after this night on the street. Why? We all went back home, and none of us suddenly had the burning urge to become homeless, quite the reverse. So Steve went home, goes to work, earns money, spends money he earns through that work, etc, the same as quite a lot of people last time I checked. You may disagree with me, but I don't think Steve giving up his home, work and life to become homeless would do much to help him do his 'real job' and 'improve Croydon'. Steve O'Connell is London Assembly Member for Croydon AND Sutton, so do excuse me if we see him from time to time. I also wonder if your concerns are less to do with charity, and more with the party that Steve is elected to? Secondly, your comments regarding Wallington as not being 'exactly the homeless capital of London.' Not that it particularly matters, but I did originally wish to do this in Croydon or Sutton High Streets, but for our own safety, the police highly advised us to take it to Wallington as they could not offer round the clock protection, which in turn would be counterproductive as homeless people have little to no protection. However, you're suggestion that homelessness in the London Borough of Sutton is insignificant is repugnant. Applications for emergency accommodation, and the number of reported rough sleepers have been growing rapidly in Sutton in recent years, and Wallington specifically has had homeless people sleeping rough on the High Street. So thank you for belittling my efforts. I do hope you never have to become homeless yourself and wonder why no-one is there to help you back on your feet. Elliot Colburn
  • Score: 2
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