Belfast Telegraph

Belfast 'slumber' bed creators hit back at council removal for safety reasons

By Joanne Sweeney

A Belfast 'slumber coffin' bed has been removed by Belfast City Council over public safety concerns.

However, a spokesman for the group responsible for the bed has hit back at council claims over its removal.

The so-called 'social experiment' was claimed by community group Common Law Northern Ireland which said it aimed to provide shelter for the homeless.

The six feet by three feet box - complete with a charging point for a phone and radio - is believed to have been placed in common ground area close to St. George's Church and near High Street in the city from Christmas Eve, 2014.

Belfast City Council cited a number of safety concerns over the bed's design, including not being fixed to its position, for its decision to remove it.

However, Common Law NI replied to the council's statement: "The pod was positioned by a main city road, where the traffic is slow moving.

"The weight of the unit requires at least four men to lift it so the risk of it falling over or blowing away is extremely low.

"The wood is an heavy duty exterior ply wood painted and varnished with water-based paints reducing the fire hazard, a fire accelerator would need to be present for a fire risk."

The sudden appearance of the bed immediately became a talking point on social media as passersby were intrigued at its use and wondered where it came from.

Commonlaw NI  had erected a sign on the box which stated: 'Social experiment. Do not Remove! You may need it someday? Give Peace a chance'.

The box had a plastic floor, wooden walls, and a solar panel inside and was sited in an area known to be frequented by homeless people. It was designed to be a bench seat by day and a shelter at night.

A spokeswoman for the council said earlier: "The council regularly works with other organisations in relation to tackling social problems across the city but our priority in this instance is to ensure the health and safety of people using this pod. It has been removed until we can consult with its owners.

“The pod was placed close to a busy thoroughfare and while well constructed is made of wood which raised concerns about combustible material and the potential for being set alight, it was not fixed in position and had a number of finger traps which could cause injury to users, inquisitive passersby or people moving the unit.

“We are keen to talk to the owners of this pod and ask them to contact us so we can discuss the issue with them.”

Carpenter Colin Fitzmaurice from Slane in Co Meath was delighted with the discovery and is now planning to built a similar one in Dublin.

He said: "I think they're a great idea and would be very simple to and relatively cheap to make."

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