Tauranga's controversial begging bylaw may be thrown out, despite claims it's 'working well'

A controversial begging bylaw may be thrown out just seven months after it was imposed.

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It will mean beggars and the homeless won’t be allowed within five metres of retail areas. Source: 1 NEWS

In April this year the Tauranga City Council implemented a begging bylaw, effectively banning rough sleepers and begging within five metres of any retail premise.

Today councillors voted that a bylaw is not the most appropriate way to address begging and rough sleeping.

The council will consult with the community and there will be further hearings next year.

Mainstreet manager for Greerton Village, Sally Benning, told the council the bylaw has “worked well” and people have come back and “feel much safer”.

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Rough sleepers and beggars will be moved on if found within five metres of any business. Source: 1 NEWS

She told the council “we would be devastated” if the bylaw was revoked.

Downtown Tauranga chairman, Brian Berry, told the council the bylaw “did send a message” but the CBD’s problems were heightened by the number of vacant shops.

Mayor Tenby Powell said he thought the council would need to look strategically at all matters "rather than apply 'tactical fixes', which  almost invariably fail". 

"The issue of managing our growing homeless and displaced population is one such issue that is in urgent need of a strategic plan. During my electoral campaign, I said "passing a bylaw to sweep the homeless out of the city is not a plan.

"The decision made by Council today will now enable us to start work in earnest on this plan while also giving us an opportunity to 'soften' the begging bylaw at a future meeting, and in doing so avoid an expensive lawsuit funded by ratepayers."

"Retail shop owners and downtown residents must absolutely be protected from harassment and aggressive behaviour and it is my hope that our debate on the bylaw early next year will ensure they too are protected."

The begging bylaw is expected to remain in place until early next year.