Business leader fires tirade at city centre beggars

Rough sleeper

If public weren't as generous the problem of begging would be solved 

2nd August 2017 by Robert Armour 4 Comments

Beggars are costing city centre businesses dear and the public should stop their generosity towards them, a leading business figure has claimed.

Stuart Patrick, the chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce, warned that a rise in begging and rough sleeping in the city was forcing the public away from shops.

Instead they were visiting out-of-town retail centres which are largely free from begging.  

It comes after a survey conducted by Glasgow City Council found that eight in 10 businesses in the city said they had been adversely affected by begging.

Patrick said: “There is no doubt that begging and rough sleeping have become markedly more visible in the past few months.

“The clear message coming back from our members is that begging is a disincentive for spending activity and investment in the city centre. Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate. They are not comfortable with it.”

Beginning put city centre outlets at a disadvantage said Patrick if they compared like-for-like sales.

“They can control how their product comes across,” he said. “You don’t have the begging or traffic problems that arise from a much more lively and varied city centre.”

As such he appealed to the public to stop being generous towards beggars. That way he said the problem would eventually be solved.

“If you remove the incentive to stay on the streets, by not giving money directly to beggars, then you will eventually help to solve the problem. The message from public agencies is that the support services are there.

“The help is there, but it’s not always accepted.”

Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate - Stuart Patrick

Community Safety Glasgow (CSG), a partnership between Glasgow city council and Police Scotland, said that there were more than 800 recorded cases of begging in the city centre in the past year.

The most common locations were Gordon Street, Union Street, Royal Exchange Square and the main shopping areas of Argyle Street, Buchanan Street and Sauchiehall Street.

However Ronnie Staples, a street pastor in Glasgow who offers help, advice and food to rough sleepers in the city centre, said Patrick was “failing to see the woods for the trees.”

“I’d say if the state was more generous, not the public, then the problem would be solved,” he said. “And of course what is the Glasgow Chamber of Commerce doing about it?

“Instead of complaining, why don’t they get together and fund one of the night shelters in the city? Or perhaps offer these people a hot meal? All I hear is complaints but no solutions – ironically from those who have the most.”  

Peter Kelly, director of Poverty Alliance Scotland, implored the business community to offer solutions to address the causes of begging. 

He told TFN: “Begging is a result of a breakdown in the welfare state.

“We need to address the causes, not just the consequences of poverty.

“People beg because they need money for food or shelter, and it is not the case that public agencies always supply people with the support they are entitled to. 

“The tone of these comments would imply that people are begging through choice but we know that is not the case.

“Should the business community want to work together to tackle poverty in the city and ensure that everyone has access to suitable shelter, we would welcome that opportunity.”  

A spokesperson for Glasgow City Council said: “We are working with partners to address the many complex causes of homelessness and begging in the city centre.”

Comments

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2nd August 2017 by Sarah

Just like feeding the pigeons or ducks. Encourages vermin, let 'em starve to death instead, problem solved. It would be shocking but we are seeing this kind of acceptable discrimination everywhere

3rd August 2017 by Lena

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3rd August 2017 by Jill

Obviously these inconsiderate people have chosen to be homeless and lay around making Glasgow look untidy. It can't possibly be anything to do with Tory benefits and housing policies.

8th August 2017 by charlie marshall

So tory benefits and housing policies are to blame. Does that mean Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council have no responsibility?