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Councillor Neil Fletcher: LETTER TO THE EDITOR

Press & Journal, 27 January 2008

Sir, - Eva Merz (Letters, January 25) asked what I meant by "professional beggars". My definition is very simple: it is someone who chooses to beg for money, rather than work for it, even when they are fit and able, and work is available. This applies to roughly 80% of Aberdeen's beggars. The remaining 20% are genuine people, who have fallen on hard times, and usually have complex mental health problems. For these people, there is help and support available, but sadly their lives are often in such a state that they cannot even accept the help that is offered. Some of these people believe it is their right to take the hard-earned money of others under the pretence that they are homeless, and then to spend this money on drink and drugs.

If folk want to help the homeless, give money to a charity or buy the Big Issue. Giving to professional beggars is not a kindness; all you are doing is helping to keep them on drugs, and in the gutter.

Councillor Neil Fletcher,

Lib Dem for Hilton, Stockethill and Woodside,

Aberdeen City Council, St Nicholas House, Broad Street, Aberdeen.