A COUNCILLOR has described the "cleansing" of a rough sleeper encampment in Newport as a “cruel move” to clean up the city centre.

The  move, described as a "cleansing" operation by council leader Jane Mudd, took place at a car park near Newport Market.

It was carried out following concerns about public health, and after numerous complaints, by Newport City Council with the support of Gwent Police last week.

But the leader of the council’s Liberal Democrats group, councillor Carmel Townsend, described the move as "shameful".

In a question to the the leader of the council, she asked for confirmation that the operation was carried out under her leadership.

“People with almost nothing have lost whatever small possessions they had in a cruel move to clean up the city centre,” Cllr Townsend said.

In response, council leader, Cllr Jane Mudd, confirmed a rough sleeper encampment was ‘cleansed.’

Councillor Mudd said homeless support organisations, business owners and members of the public – including disabled people who could not access parking bays – had requested it.

The Malpas ward councillor said the operation was undertaken “with a view to reducing any risks to public health.”

South Wales Argus:

(A picture of the site before it was cleaned. Picture: Chris Tinsley.)


The clean-up was carried out using “mechanical means” due to the risk of contamination and sharp objects, the meeting heard.

“No evictions of rough sleepers were made and the only personal belongings that were disposed of were heavily contaminated,” Cllr Mudd added.

Councillor Townsend also asked where the rough sleepers were now located.

The meeting heard some are still in tents, and that an encampment is still located within the car park, while one person has been successfully rehoused.

But some have not engaged with the council, and some people are in custody, councillor Mudd said.

Superintendent Michael Richards, of Gwent Police, confirmed three police officers and three Community Support Officers had supported the council operation.

He said it was right for the force to take part in the operation, and provided assurance that no officers were “taking people out of tents.”

In a statement, the city council said a notice was issued to people living in the tents that a cleanse was taking place.

Cleansing staff attended “to clear piles of soiled bedding, black bags full of rubbish and tents which had been abandoned along with more than 230 used hypodermic needles,” the council said.