‘Aggressive’ beggars are frightening passers-by

Blackpool has received cash to help the homeless
Blackpool has received cash to help the homeless
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Beggars and street drinkers are still congregating on the streets of Blackpool despite renewed efforts to tackle homelessness, councillors have warned.

Talbot Road, Dickson Road and the shelters on the seafront towards Bispham are among places where groups gather.

And it is feared some beggars are acting aggressively towards passers-by.

Coun Maxine Callow told a meeting of the full council she had seen beggars approaching people, including people who are sitting in their car.

She said: “It is very worrying as it is frightening for people and I don’t want this in our town.

“I have counted six or eight in doorways on Talbot Road and there are three on Coronation Street.”

Coun Paul Galley said a group frequented the doorway of the former Rawcliffe’s store on Talbot Road so often “they have practically moved in”, while Coun Don Clapham said many street drinkers gathered along the seafront towards Bispham.

He said: “I cycle up and down to Bispham on a regular basis, and there are lots and lots of drinkers in the shelters and collonades.”

A report to the council said a pro-active approach was being taken including ‘robust’ enforcement, and help for those who are genuinely homeless.

This has led to 40 problematic beggars being identified and a further 11 problematic street drinkers.

So far, two individuals have been prosecuted and received criminal behaviour orders while two individuals have been served travel warrants, escorted to the railway station and returned to where they came from.

Twenty-nine community protection warnings have been issued, 13 community protection notices issued and seven further prosecution cases are in court.

Meanwhile the council has also successfully bid for funding from the new Homelessness Prevention Trailblazer programme.

The local programme covers Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre, with Blackpool Council taking the lead and means an additional £600,000 of funding has been made available over two years to be invested across the Fylde Coast.

In Blackpool, it will mean continuing the work of a dedicated worker at Blackpool Victoria Hospital to identify and resolve housing issues, better use of data to identify people at risk of homelessness and more resources to deal with people with complex needs including rough sleepers.

Council leader Coun Simon Blackburn said years of government cuts had forced more people into poverty, with some ending up on the streets.

He said: “We have experienced the worst public sector cuts of any council in the whole of the UK.

“We have lost £450m in the last seven years.”

He welcomed the Trailblazer funding as key to helping get more people off the streets.

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