Martin Place tent city leader vows to stay in place

mayorTHE man described as the “mayor” of Martin Place’s tent city has declared the homeless community won’t be moving anytime soon despite the brokering of a deal with Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore last night.

Ms Moore had declared to a media pack on the steps of Town Hall that she had “negotiated an outcome with Lanz Priestley”, claiming that he had agreed to pack up the camp of roughly 47 tents when council trucks arrived at the CBD landmark pedestrian mall today to collect material following a guarantee a “safe space” would be provided — although one without beds.

But hours after the deal was brokered, Mr Priestley said details of the planned move were yet to be discussed and the 100 plus people calling the concourse home won’t be going anywhere any time soon.

“I have no address for it, I have no sense of where it is or anything. We haven’t seen the size of it, I’m sure it won’t be the ideal space initially,” he told reporters at 5am today.

Last night, Sydney Lord Mayor Clover Moore was confident of breaking the impasse over the problem. “He’s (Mr Priestley) agreed to this because accommodation has been offered to people and they realise that pressure is mounting and the crisis was really developing”.

Mr Priestly told The Daily Telegraph he and the Lord Mayor had conflicting definitions of what that “safe space” should look like and that he was prepared to “spend months if necessary” hashing out a deal.

“I don’t think we will accept it without accommodation … we want people to be able to sleep communally in a building — effectively a big hall with a lot of mattresses in it,” he said.

“It’ll be open in the sense that there won’t be closed off rooms.”

“Don’t think that banning me from here or from Sydney is going to stop this … we will be back with me or without me.”

Mr Priestley, a New Zealand-born father of 12 who has become the public face of the tent city homeless crisis, said that if the state issues a “banning order to 30 or 40 people here, this will still come back”.

It remains unclear whether Ms Moore will be able to salvage the so-called deal before council trucks arrive today to cart away property, with Mr Priestley adamant there were issues with the agreement earlier spruiked by the Lord Mayor.

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