“EPIDEMIC” levels of open drug taking, alcohol abuse and aggressive begging –that was the bleak picture of Glasgow’s streets painted by established operators, who have implored the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to tackle the problems, which they say are deterring customers and putting jobs in bars and restaurants at risk.
At a meeting of the Glasgow Action Group (GAG), senior figures in the city’s hospitality sector said businesses in the city were being hit by a pincer of rising crime in the city centre and business rates hikes.
James Mortimer, head of Lynnet Leisure, the group behind a number of city venues including Rogano and Citation, said: “As an industry we are suffering from crippling rates while at the same time working out of what seems like ghettos.
“It is wrong for the image of the city of Glasgow that customers are walking over people lying on the ground surrounded by needles.”
Mortimer added that there had to be a comprehensive approach from the Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council to address the issue and give the police more powers to address the problem.
“The first minister needs to give the police the right to get this sorted out,” he said. “The police’s hands are tied.
“Staff members are scared, tourists are scared.
“I’ve worked in Glasgow for 50 years and I’ve never seen anything like this.”
That view was reflected by various other operators in the city.
Marco Acari, owner of La Vita Group, said: “The council has to take responsibility for cleaning up the city. The city’s a disgrace.
“We need something back from the council.”
GAG is calling on the justice secretary to review police powers in relation to aggressive begging.
A spokeswoman from Glasgow City Council said there was “no quick fix” to the group’s concerns.
And a Scottish Government spokesperson told SLTN that the SNP administration is “determined to tackle” the issue of street begging.