Understanding plight of homeless

SIR - I write to express my regret and disappointment at the article in your July 1 edition, with the front page headline ‘Seafront vagrant blight alert by police’.

Whilst it would appear that the word ‘vagrant’ was used by both the police (for whom, in fairness, it is probably a legal term) and Councillor Sullivan, I do not feel that such an emotive and, in the general view, derogatory term has any place in your headline. This is especially so since, as your article points out, no-one has yet broken into the Old Drill Hall. The word ‘homeless’ would be far better.

As for the word ‘blight’! We are speaking here of a small number of ‘people’ – not a cloud of greenfly or outbreak of mildew.

Beyond this, however, I find the whole tenor of the response to a problem which has not yet happened, rather sad.

In my experience, the great majority of homeless people find themselves in that position not by choice, but through a combination of unfortunate circumstances.

A little compassion and understanding – not to mention some provision – for those les fortunate than ourselves would, I suggest, be a more fitting and advantageous response for a usually welcoming town like Sidmouth.

One final comment. Marginalise people by calling them a ‘blight’ and that is what they are likely to become. Would you care about a place which called you that?

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Rev David J C Wheeler

22 Ascerton Close, Sidmouth

ED: I do take your point, although I note you do not dispute the essential facts. Like many issues, this is open to interpretation, but I am quite happy to ensure that your point of view is given due prominence here.