Beggars having major impact on city centre shopping says business leader

A leading Scottish business figure has said that beggars are putting people off visiting city centres and damaging trade.

Stuart Patrick, chief executive of Glasgow Chamber of Commerce and a executive of Scottish Enterprise, said there had been an undeniable rise in begging and the number of rough sleepers had risen significantly.

He also claimed that those begging in the city centre were damaging the economy and impacting trade.

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According to Patrick, the public should stop giving money to those begging in the city centre.

Edinburgh, Dundee and Aberdeen have all reported a marked rise in the number of rough sleepers and those begging in the city.

Shelter Scotland had recorded a 46% increase in the number of rough sleepers.

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A council-funded survey carried out with Glasgow businesses found that eight out of ten respondents felt the city was being affected negatively as a result of the growing issue.

Speaking on the issue, Stuart 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 the begging is a disincentive for spending activity and investments in the city.

“Begging is not something that the business community or the general public appreciate.

“They are not comfortable with it.

He added that “Shoppers were voting with their feet.”
Mr Patrick told The Times that members of the public would be better giving their money to genuine charities such as Big Issue sellers, rather than beggars.

A Community Safety Glasgow partnership with Police Scotland found that there were more than 800 cases of begging in the city centre in the last year.

The director of Community Safety Glasgow, Eileen Marshall said that the number of beggars was “a response to poverty, not a lifestyle choice.”

Union Street in Aberdeen and Princes Street, the Royal Mile, the Old Town and George Street were common areas for beggars in Edinburgh.