November opening planned for community hub tackling crime in Rotorua

7:22 pm on 18 September 2023
Rotorua's Inner-City Community Hub will be near the corner of Hinemoa and Tūtānekai Sts.

Photo: LDR/ Laura Smith

Concerns about crime in Rotorua have sparked plans for a new community hub, which looks set to open in November.

Rotorua Lakes Council has been working with police on a Community Safety Plan, which aims to halve violent crime and antisocial behaviour in the central businesses district by 2026.

Council community and district development group manager Jean-Paul Gaston updated council members on the plan's progress at a meeting on Wednesday, including details about the inner-city hub planned after two attacks on teens in the CBD.

Economic development manager Julie-May Ellingson said a two-year lease had been signed for the hub at 1161 Hinemoa St.

Aims for the hub included building confidence in inner-city safety, improving safety, and decreasing anti-social behaviour and crime.

It will also improve the visibility of police and the council's Safe City Guardians and Māori wardens, who will work in the hub alongside an inner-city operations manager, community support officer and Neighbourhood Support volunteers.

The hub will open six days a week and rental of the premises will cost $26,500 a year.

Gaston said fit-out of the space would begin in October and the hub was expected to be operational by mid-November.

Other proposals under the plan are to refresh the council's Safe City Guardians' uniform and increase their numbers, ensure guardians are warranted to uphold council bylaws, increase CCTV operators for the council's 300 cameras, and recruit a team leader to manage safety on buses and around bus stops.

Bus stop safety was in the spotlight recently after the two teen bashings near a central city bus stop within a week of each other.

At the time, mayor Tania Tapsell urged the Government to give Rotorua more police resources, while police said they were working with partners to curb youth offending in the Rotorua CBD.

Gaston said Tapsell was talking directly with police minister Ginny Andersen about police resourcing levels.

Bay of Plenty Regional Council, which operates the bus network, had provided $86,000 per year for the next 10 years in funding for safety at bus stops and on bus routes, said Rotorua Lakes Council director of community safety Mihikore Owen,

The council plans to engage with inner-city businesses on the 2023-24 plan and to start a group to undertake initiatives to reduce offending.

- Public Interest Journalism funded through NZ on Air

Get the RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs