HC Deb 25 August 1887 vol 319 cc1803-5
MR. KIMBER (Wandsworth)

asked the First Commissioner of Works, Whether his attention has been called to the present filthy state of the water in Trafalgar Square, and if he is aware of its cause; how often the water is changed; whether he can hold out any hope that an improvement may shortly be effected; whether the attention of his Department had been called to the fact that through the summer months the square is used at night as a sleeping place by vagrants, to the annoyance of the inhabitants; and, whether any steps can be taken, either to abate this practice or to obviate its attendant consequences, which prevent the place and the seats therein from being used by any other persons even in the daytime?


The water in the basins of Trafalgar Square is being constantly replenished; besides this, these basins are, under ordinary circumstances, completely cleaned out three times a-year; but I have given directions that this operation shall be immediately performed. The fact is that during this long spell of fine weather a great number of homeless people have congregated in Trafalgar Square at night for the purpose of sleeping there; and before they vanish in the morning some of them not only perform ablutions at the fountains, but deposit various portions of their raiment and other chattels in the basins. I am afraid that these nocturnal visitors also leave behind them certain nomad populations on the benches, which make them not very safe for cleanly people afterwards; but it is not easy to see what can be done. I have communicated with the police, and they have succeeded to a great extent in checking the disorderly and offensive conduct which was lately complained of. But I have not the power, even if I had the will—and I certainly have not the will—to banish these unfortunate creatures from the Square altogether; and I should be very unwilling to take away the seats which were placed there by the charity of Lord Brabazon—I presume mainly for the use of the poor. All I can do is to see that our rule that the Square, including the benches, is to be washed down every morning, and that all filth and rubbish is to be cleared away, shall be carefully carried out, as I believe it now is; and, as I have said, the fountains shall be as often as necessary cleaned.


asked, whether it was a fact that the water used in the Square was obtained from the neighbouring baths and washhouses?


said, it was not a fact. The water came from the Water Company.