Wandsworth Council asked for the homeless Somali family’s bench to be removed because they believed it was in their best interests, we have been told today.

A mother and son centred their lives around the public bench outside TK Maxx, in Tooting High Street, for nine months.

The council requested the bench be removed after the mother was taken to hospital suffering from cold on Monday afternoon.

The very next day the seat was ripped up by Transport for London (TfL) and the holes filled in. Residents expressed their shock at the quick turnaround, with many criticising it as a short-term solution to the family’s problems.

A spokesman for the council said: “We believe that taking this action was absolutely in the best interests of the two people who have been living and sleeping on this bench.

“With the weather turning increasingly cold and wet and concern growing for their health and welfare, we hope they will now finally agree to accept our long standing offers of help, support and a proper roof over their heads.”

It is understood TfL had been planning to remove this bench in the future, along with other pieces of roadside furniture in the busy shopping area.

Wandsworth Times:

An empty space where the bench once was 

A large crowd gathered around the bench on Monday evening, along with two police cars and an ambulance. The emergency services eventually managed to persuade her to accept healthcare, at which point the crowd cheered.

Yesterday the Wandsworth Guardian approached the council asking why the bench was removed and we were directed to TfL. A few hours later TfL told us it was the council that had requested its removal and we went back to the council to press them further.