A group of homeless Romanians in the Park Lane underpass during heavy rain this week
East European beggars who have turned part of Park Lane into a “slum” today demanded: “We’re EU citizens, give us houses”.
Traders have accused the group of up to 40 rough sleepers of having cost them tens of thousands of pounds as tourists and shoppers steer clear of their makeshift camp. They claim to have witnessed public urination and fights over the past 18 months and have urged Westminster council to take action.
The group has set up home in a subway under Park Lane, sleeping on cardboard boxes surrounded by their belongings tied up with string. One middle-aged woman, who would not give her name, said:
“We are from Romania. We are in the European Union. We need help with a house. Give us a house and we won’t be here.”Hakan Altay, whose Park Lane salon overlooks Marble Arch, said a quarter of his clients had taken their custom elsewhere because of the camp, costing him “tens of thousands”.
“My business has been killed by them. When I ask them to leave, they just shout. They don’t understand. They sleep outside the shop and make my property smell of urine. They go to the toilet where they like.”Related stories
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“They work with a leader who controls everything. Two Saturdays ago, there were 20 people sleeping outside my salon and the leader moved them into the subway.”
Romanian Gypo scum in London
Mr Altay has pleaded with the police and the council to remove the group but it has come to nothing, he said.
A female worker said:
“The area has to be cleaned every day. They leave heaps of cardboard, bags, clothes and shoes and use the subway as a toilet. It’s like a slum here.”Other retailers have witnessed fights and arguments, including two men beating a woman with a crutch. Convenience store worker Paki Arif Islam, 30, said:
“Last week at about 10pm we had to call the police because there was an argument between them. It looked like two factions arguing.”
Foreign gangs are shipping coach loads of Romanians into London, officials say
Immigrants from within the EU can claim a council property if they meet certain criteria.
Westminster city council has campaigned to evict the rough sleepers — even buying them tickets to fly home — but says it needs tougher powers to enforce their removal.
Nickie Aiken, the council’s cabinet member for community protection, said the legislative powers available
“allow some EU nationals to exploit a three-month window to stay here without making a positive contribution to London life."