LOCAL RESIDENTS WARNED TO AVOID
It’s one of those situations that leaves you feeling unsure, awkward, embarrassed and maybe guilty too. You’re going about your daily life, shopping in your local high street and you come across someone who appears less fortunate…but do you ever wonder if they are genuine or not?
While some will jump down your throat for even suggesting such a thing, it’s a very valid concern and Fleet seems to be one of the latest towns to suffer from this.
It has been reported by residents that there are two Big Issue sellers in Fleet, a man and a woman (who appears to be pregnant). While their location changes from outside on the street, to inside the centre…their occupancy does not. In fact, they seem to be doing a roaring trade in a town that is in fact being duped by fraudsters.
There have been many complaints this year about the couple and it has in fact been confirmed that they are NOT genuine Big Issue sellers. The company have stated that they do not know where they are getting their magazines from but that they may be outdated or taken from another seller – either way they should be avoided and recognised for what they are – fakes.
These fraudsters do not carry a valid ID and have been known to harass local shoppers, intimidating them and being extremely rude until they either buy from them or leave them alone. Although more people are now realising these sellers are fake via reports on social media, many older residents may not be aware of this so please make sure you tell any friends or family that you can.
The Big Issue have confirmed the sellers are not genuine but unfortunately are unable to stop them selling in Fleet. The matter has now been referred to Hart District Council to deal with as the company states “they are basically beggars using The Big Issue as a cover”.
Councillor Steve Forster from Hart District Council states on his Facebook page…
“There have been a number of posts about unauthorised The Big Issue sellers in Fleet – convincing visitors to part with money, falsely believing they are legitimate The Big Issue authorised sellers.
Hart Council officers in the Community Safety Team are aware, and have been investigating and gathering evidence. They have had confirmation that these sellers are not TBI authorised.
It would be helpful if any residents or businesses have concerns, that they could provide details by email which can be used as ‘impact evidence’ by officers. The information that would be classed as ‘impact evidence’ by businesses includes the effect on business perception of the town trade, visitor/customer response, and any incurred costs. In terms of impact on residents, it needs to be specific evidence – not just that it isn’t liked or is a concern, but that it deters visitors, reduces trade, etc.
Sorry to be so specific, but officers have said that it is important that they comply with current legislation and gather correct evidence – hence please do report any specifics if possible. This can be sent to me directly at my hart.gov.uk email or sent to email@example.com
Once officers have sufficient evidence they can issue a Community Protection Notice warning letter. If that does not stop the activity they will then consider raising a formal CPN notice and if appropriate gather further evidence (including CCTV) to pursue a legal prosecution.
I will keep a close eye on the situation as I’m aware many residents and businesses have concerns”
Hopefully this will now be dealt with promptly, as many locals question why the sellers, reported by some to own multiple residences and be far from down on their luck, cannot be moved on by the police. If only we still had a local police station…
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