GRANITE CITY COULD LEAD THE WAY WITH BYLAW TO BAN BEGGING
Press & Journal, 23 January 2008
Aberdeen could still become the first city in Scotland to outlaw street begging after city councillors yesterday decided to revisit the proposal. Councillors at yesterday's policy and strategy committee meeting agreed to write to the Scottish Government to see if its new SNP administration has a different view on the proposed city-wide bylaw than the previous executive. The former Holyrood government was unconvinced that new legislation was needed, arguing that existing breach of the peace laws sufficed. But councillors want to resurrect the plans in an attempt to put an end to "professional begging".
"I wonder if it's time to write to Scottish ministers again, there's been a change there," said councillor Neil Fletcher. "It would make a big, big difference to the quality of life for shoppers in Union Street."
Mr Fletcher said a report on the issue showed there were 25 regular beggars in Union Street, and around five or six of those had mental health, or drug-related issues.
"However, there was a significant number of those people were identified as professional beggars," the Lib-Dem group deputy leader said.
Council leader Kate Dean said someone told her they had seen one beggar sitting with a laptop.
SNP-group deputy leader Councillor Jim Kiddie felt the council should be more proactive in helping people get off the streets.
"I go up and down Union Street and I recognise people who have been there for a long time," he said.
"I just wonder if there is a more proactive approach we can try."
Councillors also heard that the begging-box scheme, removed from city streets in November last year after thieves repeatedly broke into them, would only be set up in shopping centres.