Wednesday, July 14, 2004

The Begging Charge

The Mayor's office is apparently planning to follow the Congestion Charge with a similar scheme to cut down on overcrowding at the city's more popular begging sites.

Prime pitches such as around the Hungerford Bridge, along the South Bank and near mainline stations including King's Cross and Victoria will be marked with a large B surrounded by a red circle. Use of them will cost £5 a day.

A well-placed source told TiL: "What do you mean it's an outrageous abuse of power? We're perfectly within our rights. This scheme will raise thousands, thousands I tell you. Thousands! Folk music concerts in Trafalgar Square don't pay for themselves, you know. Now get out of my office."

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Any truth in the rumour that the mobile begging Eastern European mother and breast-feeding baby ensembles are also to become liable for the congestion charge when they cross Marylebone Road to the south side? I hear that BfL (Begging for London) is increasingly concerned about the congestion caused by these ensembles around the London Eye.

I think £5 is very reasonable for a pitch on Hungerford Bridge. I travel daily from Esher and like to bagsy a spot at the south end of the bridge (so I can nip off to the Poetry Library at lunchtime and then have an avocado and mozarella wrap at Eats in the Festival Hall) and £5 out of my daily take of approx £73 seems fair. I like to put something back.

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