Utrecht businesses push for ban on street begging; City refuses
Business owners in Utrecht are calling for a ban on street begging. According to CMU, an organization that supports entrepreneurs in Utrecht, there are multiple complaints about beggars causing problems. The municipality of Utrecht has no plans to introduce a ban on begging, a spokesperson for the municipality said to NOS.
"They put the problem on the entrepreneurs, politicians are sticking their head in the sand", Tom Broekman of CMU said to NOS. He stressed that this is not about Utrecht residents who have ended up on the street for whatever reason, but about "commercial" beggars. "These are people from the Eastern bloc and who are staying at a campsite nearby with a large group. They are hierarchal organizations that send people into the streets to beg."
One entrepreneur told the broadcaster that "the beggars cause the deterioration of the city". According to him, the beggars bother people on the terrace by walking past with a note containing a sad story. "It happens that guests, before we as staff greet them, have already been approached three times by a beggar. Then I understand when they pack their things and leave. I sell hospitality. This does not contribute to that."
The municipality hasn't notice an increase in the number of beggars or complaints about them, the municipal spokesperson said to RTV Utrecht. "The municipality, together with the police, will continue to keep a close eye on the situation and action will be taken if necessary."
The municipality points to 2017 when there was complaints about a group of beggars causing problems in the city. "At the end of 2017 there was a discussion about whether a ban on begging should be included in the General Local Regulation. The [mayor and aldermen], supported by a majority of the municipal council, then chose not to do so. First of all, because a large group of beggars who cause no problems would also be affected by this ban. And also because any fines are difficult to collect and as a result people can get further into financial difficulties."