Councillors denounce begging bylaw

Two Auckland councillors have denounced a draft bylaw to outlaw begging throughout the region.

The draft initially called for a ban on nuisance behaviour such as asking for money, food, or other items. But after public submissions, a total ban on begging was recommended by commissioners from the Auckland Council and Auckland Transport.

Councillor Cathy Casey said on Wednesday the plan impinges on human rights and intends to fight it every step of the way. She said the draft bylaw treats beggars like dogs.

Another councillor, Richard Northey, was one of four commissioners who drafted the bylaw.

Mr Northey said he was the only one to vote against including the clause, which he described as over-the-top and indicative of an intolerant society.

Mr Northey said the full force of the law is not something that should be applied to people others feel uncomfortable about, such as beggars.

The Heart of the City business group, Onehunga Business Association and the Smith and Caughey department store all pushed for begging to be banned.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said there is a hard core of beggars who intimidate shoppers and workers on Queen Street, and businesses have no power to move them on.

Mr Swney said some sort of common sense needs to prevail and the bylaw would finally give people who use and work on the main street in the central city some rights.

The Auckland Council will receive a final recommendation report in late August.

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