by Brian BamfordTODAY, Northern Voices' did a survey of Rochdale town centre looking for the beggars reported to have been infesting the area between the Rochdale Exchange part way up Yorkshire Street, and the Wheatsheaf Centre entrance.
During my unscientific investigation I didn't discover one beggar, and began to worry if the tribe of beggars had been intimidated by the local MP for Rochdale, Simon Danczuk, who was whingeing in parliament last week, and in the media about the level of begging in Rochdale town centre. He even castigated the Greater Manchester Police for not being more proactive in moving Rochdale's paupers on.
I spoke to one shopkeeper on The Walk, and she claimed the beggars come in shifts: 'it's like musical beggars, not musical chairs, round here,' she said.
I said that I'd toured the area on Monday afternoon, and hadn't seen the lad who usually sits begging at the end of Yorkshire Street. The shopkeeper insisted that the beggars didn't come until later, and that they kept away when the cops were around. 'The police do move them on!', she said.
But everyone was critical of the paupers and beggars, I approached a 'Busker' half way up Yorkshire Street, and I asked him where had all the beggars gone: He told me they were still around and hadn't been frightened off my the belly-aching Mr. Danczuk.
I wondered if the good MP for Rochdale, who himself is down on his luck having been suspended from the Labour Party for disreputable behaviour, could possibly have mistaken Busking for begging when he took to counting the beggars on the short walk up Yorkshire Street to his office, where once he himself is reputed to have spent time bonking a lass on the office desk before breakfast?
The Busker said 'he can class me how he likes but I've got a license from the Council for what I do!'
He then told me how he 'felt guilty' when sometimes the local beggars throw money into his collecting tin, and he expressed surprise at how Mr. Danczuk had got away for so long in this town with his own disreputable conduct.
As I wandered off, the Busker began singing: 'I'll Do It My Way'
Meanwhile yesterday, when it comes to spare change Danczuk's former wife, Ms. Karen Danczuk, tweeted cheerfully about 'That moment when you find money in a coat you've not worn for a few weeks'.*