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Homeless not moved for Aust Open: council

AAP logoAAP 11/01/2017

Homeless people camped outside Melbourne's busiest train station were asked to move, but the council denies any link to preparations for the Australian Open tennis tournament.

The rough sleepers left Flinders Street station on Wednesday so a concrete area could be cleaned and some have since returned, the City of Melbourne says.

But the council says there is no link between "routine and ongoing clean-up operations" and any major events occurring in the city.

"City of Melbourne officers regularly monitor sites that are known to be used by people sleeping rough as a place to shelter, and ensure the areas are kept tidy and do not become detrimental to public amenity or safety," a council spokesperson said in a statement.

"It is not illegal to be homeless or sleep rough on the streets in Melbourne (but) it is illegal to erect structures such as tents."

Victorian Attorney-General Martin Pakula said Wednesday's operation was "certainly" not related to the tennis and the state government is doing "a great deal" to tackle homelessness.

Last June, the council's annual homeless person headcount revealed a jump of more than 74 per cent of people sleeping rough in two years.

Melbourne Lord Mayor Robert Doyle announced a plan last month to remove homeless camps around the city and act assertively to connect the homeless with support services.

He also pleaded with people to give money to support services, not beggars.

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