Safety fears as ban on rough-sleeping in CBDs moves closer

3:14 pm on 16 November 2018

A plan to ban begging and rough sleeping in Tauranga is one step closer after a city council vote.

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Councillor Terry Molloy says beggers and rough sleepers have badly affected businesses. Photo: 123rf

The ban is proposed for Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton CBDs and will prohibit begging and rough sleeping within 5m of retail and hospitality premises.

The bylaw is due to go to a final vote next week.

Tauranga City Councillor Terry Molloy, who proposed the ban, said no-one would be hurt if it was ratified by the council next week.

The ban would cover areas within 5m of retail and hospitality premises in the central business districts of Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton.

Mr Molloy told Morning Report beggars and rough sleepers had detrimentally affected businesses and caused problems for the community.

"I've worked with the community in Greerton and that area in particular has been affected in quite a bad way," he said.

"There were people being driven out of business and their lives have been affected, the whole community had been affected and we just needed to do something about."

He said enforcement costs associated with the bylaw would not be significant, as the move was more about facilitating interactions between homeless and council officers.

"This will give our compliance officers the ability to negotiate with these people, to talk to them. At the moment they... can be told to just 'go to hell' because they know they can't do anything about it."

Mr Molloy said the beggars were not being pushed out of the central city altogether.

"They can still sleep in and around the CBD, they can still beg in and around the CBD, but there will be places where they cannot do that," he said.

Angela Wallace, chairwoman of Community Angels which is a collective supporting the homeless in Tauranga, said the ban vote showed the vulnerable were being pushed out of sight rather than being supported.

"We appreciate the support for our retailers and elderly people in the community who feel threatened, but we think that a better response would be to offer support for our vulnerable people," she said.

She said rough sleepers would be pushed out of areas of relative security and expressed particular concern for homeless women who she said already faced safety issues in the city.

"I think people will stick around the shops for as long as possible and council will probably need to enforce it [the ban]", she said.

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