Listed as “an update on begging behaviour in the central city”, an item on the agenda of Auckland Council’s regulatory & bylaws committee yesterday was given scant attention after the committee devoted 4 hours to turning circles in a debate on whether to ban set nets at Omaha Beach.
And the begging debate boiled down to authorising the start of the research phase of a bylaw review.
Included in that package was a recommendation for the council to advocate to the Government for infringement powers & increased social service provision.
The council can deal with begging through its public safety & nuisance bylaw, aimed at minimising offensive behaviour. But it also has a community development & safety committee chaired by Cllr Cathy Casey, who has long been an advocate for improving the lot of the homeless. That committee had 2 reports in March updating it on homelessness issues, including support for non-council agencies.
Still, that hasn’t resolved the question of begging in the central city, and on Queen St in particular, an issue of obvious concern to businesses.
Heat of the City chief executive Viv Beck & centre manager Tania Loveridge presented that organisation’s concerns at the impact of begging on Queen St’s many small businesses and on Auckland’s reputation, while saying that people who need help should get it.
Ms Beck said Heart of the City was looking for a broader solution, not just a by law review, and this needed to take in answers to homelessness, not just regulation.
While Ms Beck said the bylaw needed to contain the word ‘ban’, she added: “We don’t think a ban can be in isolation…. We’re not the specialist providers who will present the solution. It seems a lot of discussion is happening and we’re looking for a holistic solution…. The bylaw enables us only to manage it, not solve it.”
Bylaws & compliance manager Max Wilde said the police had eventually introduced a trespass order for Freyberg Square because of the homelesss & begging there, and Cllr George Wood commented: “We’ve kind of let these people who beg on the streets of the city have free rein, and we’ve regretted it, the way it’s happening down there at the moment. It’s said that when a cruise ship comes in they all come out of the woodwork. I think it’s unfair to the business people, the retailers in the city centre, and we’re regretting it. Let’s get the bylaw reviewed and make some progress.”
The committee resolved to get on with the review.
Regulatory & bylaws committee agenda 10 May 2016
Agenda item 11, Update on begging behaviour in the central city
13 Update on bylaws development and information on the 2016/17 work programme
Auckland Council community development & safety committee agenda 30 March 2016
13, Update on Auckland Council’s activity to address homelessness
Update on social & affordable housing activities
14, Update on long-term plan homelessness budget activity
Budget 2016 announcements
9 May 2016: Government sets up funding support for emergency housing and council talks about beggars
29 November 2006: Initiative opens to reduced cbd rough sleeper numbers
13 November 2005: Council adopts new role to lead change for city’s rough sleepers
1 March 2005: Better homeless economics
28 February 2005: Forum sets path to improve lot of homeless
11 December 2004: New forum on homeless
Attribution: Council committee meeting.