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Press & Journal, 25 January 2008

Sir, - You reported (January 23) that Aberdeen City Council was going to resurrect plans for a begging ban. Councillor Neil Fletcher referred to “professional beggars”. Does that mean that they are better at it than others? To me it rather insinuates that somebody is doing good business here, and is there any proof of that?

Council leader Kate Dean added that somebody has even seen a beggar with a laptop. Yes, I know how she got that information. It was me. When I worked on a book about street begging, I often sat next to a beggar and sometimes I would show my work on the laptop.

One day a member of the public took a picture of me and a beggar sitting together. The photo was then circulated in group emails, calling us “career beggars”. If it weren’t such a terrible misinterpretation it almost would be funny.

Please get real, it’s January, people don’t beg because it’s good business. People beg because they are desperate.

Meanwhile Aberdeen City Council’s only approach is to ban the problem. What about the people?

It would suit councillors to be a little less prejudiced and a little more realistic about the causes of the problem.


Eva Merz, New Social Art School, Sauchiehall Street, Glasgow