STREET furniture designed to deter homeless people is the target of a campaign by renowned Bournemouth-based artist Stuart Semple.

The contemporary artist is launching this week and hopes to rid the streets of what he calls Design Against Humanity.

His campaign was sparked when he spotted "ugly" metal bars placed across the middle of benches in Bournemouth town centre.

He told the Daily Echo: "It is not an arm rest - it is an anti-sitting device. It is there for one reason and that is to deter homeless people from using the bench.

"The council should be considering ways to help the homeless. It is hard to imagine that people actually sat there in a meeting and signed it off."

Stuart put a picture on social media of the benches and it has already been seen by more than a million people.

He also pointed out that seats have been removed from bus stops and that an area outside a fast food restaurant frequented by teenagers has had uncomfortable spikes placed on it to stop them sitting down.

Stuart is a well-known artist who creates huge public art projects all over the world.

He added: "Public furniture should be designed to bring people together, not to keep them away from each other. This kind of hostile architecture is the opposite of what I am about."

Numerous benches have had the metal bars added to them, including those outside Tesco Metro, Zara and the NatWest bank.

A spokesman for Bournemouth council said: "In Bournemouth we deliver a wide range of services for homeless people, including providing approximately 150 hostel bed spaces for homeless people and funding the St Mungo’s rough sleeper assertive outreach team.

"We need to maintain a careful balance between our responsibility to the public to ensure that amenities are available to them, and our duty of care to vulnerable members of our community, including people rough sleeping.

"These changes were made to benches several months ago, following numerous complaints by members of the public and local traders. The complaints related to a number of the benches being unavailable to members of the public throughout the day due to people lying on them during the daytime."

He said the council has a wide range of services for homeless people and works closely with partner agencies. He urged anyone concerned about someone who is rough sleeping to go to or calling 0300 500 0914.