A HOMELESS man has criticised the council for taking his only shelter from the elements.

Southend Council and Essex Police moved the camp off Southend Cliff Gardens, claiming it was carried out under the terms of a High Court injunction which bans unlawful encampments in the area.

But Vince Godwin, 39, who has been homeless for months said he cannot get his belongings back.

He said: “I had gone to Danbury to look for work and had left a note on my tent.

“They called me to say I could not camp there and I told them that I couldn’t get back.

“They said they would leave my items and belongings in a bag but when I got back it was all gone except from some clothes and a sleeping bag.

“I was there with one other man who works. We keep ourselves to ourselves and are pretty quiet in comparison to other homeless people.

“I know some people are fined and I think it’s wrong that people are being penalised for being homeless.

“We need help and support not being prosecuted.”

“I’ve been homeless for about six months, after battling with a dodgy landlady who refused to sort the home when I had no not water and heating.

Carl Robinson, Director of Public Protection, said: “Tents and discarded clothing were removed from the unauthorised encampment and disposed of, along with lots of litter. The encampment had been in place for some time and we received several complaints from the public, specifically regarding anti-social behaviour. Our officers did call a number pinned to the tent to explain the situation and ask if there was anything personal or of value that had been left, and they followed the person’s instructions.

“The cliffs are not a safe or suitable place to camp. Over several months we have tried to help those camping get into suitable accommodation, where a professional support network is available to address their needs. We will continue to offer that support and talk to those who find themselves in this situation, in the ongoing hope that they will engage and start to talk to local organisations in order to build a better future.”