Beggars return to the streets of Cheltenham
BEGGARS who have returned to the streets of Cheltenham have 'no excuse' for being there, says a town centre chief.
A surge in street beggars has been reported in recent days despite previous crackdowns.
But town centre manager Martin Quantock, from the Cheltenham Business Partnership, said: "There really is no excuse for them being there because there are a number of agencies ready to help.
"I have noticed one or two have come back, particularly in the evenings.
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"I think it is more to do with a change in the weather as opposed to anything to do with the economy as we have been in a recession for some time now."
He said in some cases money that was given could be used to pay for drink and drugs.
"It is misguided kindness. They are receiving quite a bit of cash and it is far easier for them to take that money than go and get the help on offer," he said.
One Charlton Kings resident, who asked not to be named, also hit out at the number of beggars on the streets. "There used to be a caring concern about what was happening in the town centre," he said.
"Alas our town has succumbed to permitting beggars to squat on the main thoroughfares with their begging receptacle placed.
"These are not homeless nor Big Issue sellers. If people realised how much they purloined then they might think again."
Back in 2009, Cheltenham's streets were declared free from beggars after a major campaign to get them off the streets and into help.
Experts from the police, council and homeless charities joined together.
They backed the Echo's Don't Kill With Kindness campaign after the newspaper revealed some beggars were collecting up to £80 a day – or £29,000 a year – and were not always homeless and in need of help.
Others were encouraged to instead take up selling the Big Issue rather than begging.
Emma Kernahan, from the Big Issue, said at the time: "We don't just help those who are homeless but also some people who drift in and out of accommodation. Part of what we do is to try and break that cycle."