‘Professional begging’ in and around Bedford’s car parks is causing safety concerns for visitors and must be dealt with urgently, according to Conservative Cllr Roger Rigby.
At a meeting of Bedford Borough Council on the 9th October, Cllr Rigby spoke of town centre beggars ‘working shifts’ next to car park payment machines and pressuring visitors to part with their cash. He questioned the Mayor’s administration as to what measures had been put in place to stop this practice.
Following the meeting, Cllr Rigby said:
‘It has been made clear by the Council and our partners supporting rough sleepers that these individuals have no interest whatsoever in receiving assistance for housing and other services. They are not homeless; this is a professional begging operation that is clearly lucrative.
‘Our car parks are key entry points to the town centre. They set the tone for a good visitor experience to Bedford but I know the presence of beggars is damaging to the health of the town at a time when it has never been more challenged.
‘I welcome the joint working between the Council and Bedfordshire Police to move on these individuals from the car parks but it needs to happen now to prevent the problem from recurring. I would also urge the public to donate to established local charities supporting rough sleepers and the homeless rather than giving money to individuals.’