The sight of beggars on the High Street this week drove one angry shopkeeper to write a sign that warned people “not to encourage them”.
And with rumours rife that the two so-called homeless people were dropped off in town in a new Mercedes car – and one was spotted in a leather jacket whilst chatting on a mobile phone – traders are up in arms that the high street has been targeted.
Tommy Mulvee, the North Port cobbler and ironmonger, spotted a girl, possibly of Romanian descent, sitting outside his shop on Tuesday, and stated: “The minute I saw her I drew up two signs that said ‘Please do not encourage beggars on Hawick High Street’, and I added ‘Or seagulls’, because just like seaside towns, if you apply that to the problem, hopefully it goes away.”
Explaining his exasperation, he added: “They just bring the High Street down. We are all trying to keep bright window displays on what is left of our High Street, trying to raise it up, and these people do the opposite.”
A man also chose to sit on the pavement under a blanket close to butcher James Pringle’s shop, and he shares a similar sentiment. “I don’t think these people are homeless,” he stated.
“Those that were here this week were just professional scammers. One of them had a Superdry coat on, which isn’t cheap, and their begging cups were from Subway. It didn’t affect us as a shop, but it does lower the tone of the street.”
Indeed, with gossip circulating that the pair were just scrounging and had even frequented Greggs for lunch, sympathy also ran out at florists, Lily of the Valley.
Properietor Sheena Elliot told the Hawick News: “I think it’s disgusting. The girl was sitting right outside my shop with her begging cup, holding it out every time someone passed. I really don’t want to see that outside my window.”
She added: “These people seemed to be well-dressed and the girl had a full face of make-up. But what’s Hawick coming to?”
And a chain-store shop manager in the same vicinity, who did not wish to be named, added: “I just moved them on.”
Provost Stuart Marshall commented: “To see people sitting on any high street asking for money is not a pretty sight.”