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Residents call to act on South Woodford beggar ‘gang’ operating near the station

PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 January 2017

Cllr Lloyd Duddridge, Redbridge Council chief executive Andy Donald, Cllr Jas Athwal, Cllr Hugh Cleaver and Cllr Paul Canal attended the local forum yesterday

Cllr Lloyd Duddridge, Redbridge Council chief executive Andy Donald, Cllr Jas Athwal, Cllr Hugh Cleaver and Cllr Paul Canal attended the local forum yesterday

Rosaleen Fenton

Betting shops are contributing to the rise in beggars operating along George Lane, South Woodford, a councillor has claimed.

After a complaint was raised on Monday that “sordid” beggars were working as a “gang” along the street, councillors said that they were aware of their presence.

Cllr Lloyd Duddrige (Lab, Roding) said that plans to tackle the clustering of bookies across the borough are in the pipeline.

He said: “People can lose hundreds of pounds in minutes, and then need more cash immediately.”

The draft Redbridge Local Plan which outlines plans for development in the borough up until 2030, recommends that future betting shops should not be built within 50metres of an existing bookmakers or payday lender.

At the Local Forum meeting in Woodford Methodist Church, South Woodford, Cllr Hugh Cleaver (Lib Dem, Church End) said police were aware of the issue, but had received criticism for previous action.

He said: “It’s become more of a problem. Previously, police prosecuted someone but then he received a tremendous amount of flak over doing so.”

Cllr Cleaver said he encouraged residents to not hand over any money to the beggars, as it “could do more to kill then rather than help them”.

Fellow ward councillor Tom McLaren said it was the “same group of faces” regularly congregating.

“The only way police can deal with any problems is if they are reported”, he said.

“It is only illegal to ask for money, so it can be a difficult challenge for the police.”


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