Brexit – a distraction from the real challenges for our towns?

After starting to emerge from the uncertainties of a deep recession we are now facing uncertain times with the political and economic challenges of handling our departure from the EU. Although David Cameron said that ‘the only certainty of exit is uncertainty’ that sort of certainty is not enough to make us feel OK!

At a time when we feel there is little we can do to control inevitable change we look for things which are familiar and feel safe. We need to feel safe and entertained in our towns and city centres so the ‘experience’ becomes even more important as does the impact of anything which feels uncomfortable.

Street sleepers, beggars and anti-social behaviour generally is something which has always existed but is becoming a bigger problem and its impact upon our visit to a town centre is more significant than ever. Businesses will tell you that this is having a bigger economic impact upon them on a day to day basis than the current ‘Brexit’ situation as visitors’ tolerance is tested.

Police and agencies generally feel limited in their capacity to do anything. In fact many of these so-called beggars are either ‘professional beggars’ with a permanent residence or people who will simply not accept the help they are offered. Some places have been able to educate the local population to give through channels which provide targeted help. This has reduced begging populations which move on, but as a nation we have to address this issue. It might appear to be at the bottom of the list of risks to personal safety but it affects the experience of millions of visitors to town and city centres and is currently impacting upon the economy far more than Brexit.

Our departure from the EU has to be managed carefully but let’s make sure we do not lose sight of the issues which affect us all on a day to day basis.