Tauranga City Council is this week looking at legislating beggars out of the central business district.
A notice of motion, filed by councillor Terry Molloy and seconded by Bill Grainger, proposes banning begging and sleeping rough in the city.
While they wish to ban sleeping rough only in the central business district, begging is to be banned ‘city wide', according to the Notice of Motion, which is to be discussed at Tuesday's city council meeting.
A third part of the motion is that the city council urgently work with the community and central government partners to put in place support for those is genuine need.
The motion's supporting comments acknowledge that implementing it will take some time but it is intended to send a clear message that the council is determined to rectify the social problems ‘on its journey to becoming an internationally competitive city with a higher standard of living for all'.
Nelson has already successfully put in place bylaws covering begging and rough sleepers, and Tauranga could use their model, says the two councillors.
One option is an amendment to the existing Street Use and Public Places Bylaw – which empowers the council to give out parking tickets.
The councillors say begging is a major problem in the city, not just the CBD but also Greerton and other areas. The beggars are increasing in number and becoming more aggressive, making many people avoid certain areas of town. They say there is some evidence that professional begging groups are operating.
“It is not a good look for our residents, our visitors and children, especially as begging and rough sleeping should not be necessary in this country,” says Terry.
“This is even worse than window washers and council banned them.
“Once we stop the soliciting/begging, I believe it will result in a significant drop-off of rough sleepers. This will have a significant positive impact on our business in the city.”
A SunLive story in August reported council complaints about begging and beggars have declined over the last two years.