20 Nov 2018

Tauranga bans begging and sleeping near shops and restaurants

7:26 pm on 20 November 2018

The Tauranga City Council has narrowly passed a bylaw banning begging and rough sleeping near retail and hospitality premises.

File photo.

File photo. Photo: 123RF

Councillors voted six - five in favour of the ban at a meeting this afternoon.

The ban will cover areas within five metres of shops in the central business districts of Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton.

The ban has faced strong criticism from community groups with some saying it will push the vulnerable out of sight, rather than supporting them.

But City Councillor Terry Molloy, who proposed the ban, said it is a win for the wider community.

Beggars and rough sleepers have affected businesses and caused problems for the community, Mr Molloy said.

Mr Molloy is confident the ban will improve the situation and if it doesn't he will resign.

"I feel strongly about how it's affecting our wider community and I feel very strongly about how it's affecting those that are less fortunate - and I have been working at both ends of this problem," Mr Molloy said.

At the meeting, Councillor John Robson described the ban as an embarrassment.

"We shouldn't be in this place. What we should be doing is providing... facilities for the victims of central government policy and providing and giving them somewhere to go.

"Insisting that we clear the streets when those people have nowhere to go is treating them like waste," Mr Robson said.

The bylaw will be enforced from April next year.