'We don't want them here' - residents appeal for sex workers in Christchurch suburb to be moved on

A group of residents in Christchurch is demanding the council deal with the city's sex workers who are basing themselves in the suburb of St Albans. 

Many of Christchurch's prostitutes were forced from the central city after the 2011 earthquakes cut off the CBD, but six years on many remain in the residential area at the northern end of Manchester Street. 

Residents say the workers are highly disruptive and that the sex workers often leave rubbish all over their properties, including beer bottles, used condoms and faeces.

Used condoms, needles and screaming are just some of the things St Albans residents are sick of. Source: 1 NEWS

Some residents say they've found prostitutes servicing clients on their properties. 

St Albans resident Matt Bonis says when it's busy there's often a prostitute on every corner outside his house, and his children have been woken often by the sex workers.  

The residents have joined forces to take their issues to council, and say the council's bylaw that restricts commercial activity in public places means the sex workers should be moved on. 

"It's very simple in my mind. None of us are on a moral crusade against prostitution," said Mr Bonis.

"The Government's legalised it and that's it. What we're saying is, it's clearly a commercial business.

A car came around the corner and a girl got thrown right out onto the street - Purchas Street resident Russell Craigie

"They're advertising commercial services, even if money doesn't change hands on the street. It's obvious what it is and it should be treated like every other industry."

Another Purchas Street resident, Russell Craigie, has lived on the street for five years, and has padlocked his gate to stop any sex workers entering his yard.

"At six o'clock in the morning it's not uncommon for them to be out here on the street," he said.

"Tradies picking them up. In fact one night a car came around the corner and a girl got thrown right out onto the street. That's the sort of activity that's going on. Undesirables. And we don't want them here."

The residents have employed the services of lawyer Duncan Webb, who says the prostitutes are breaching the bylaw and it's time for many agencies to step in. 

"We want to make it really clear that this activity is in itself not an illegal activity. These women have their own issues and we want to make sure that they're looked after," said Mr Webb.

"But the conduct of this work in this area is highly disruptive. It goes on late at night. It can be noisy. There are all sorts of side effects, some of it not very nice."

The mere presence of a person on a street corner... is insufficient evidence that a commercial activity is being advertised or carried out - Christchurch City Council


The residents' group is taking its concerns to the Christchurch City Council later this month, but the council says while it's exploring its options, it's difficult to enforce. 

In a statement the council said: "The mere presence of a person on a street corner, even if the manner of their attire and behaviour suggest that they may be working, is insufficient evidence that a commercial activity is being advertised or carried out.

"Sex workers do not use the billboards and banners that are typical of other business enterprises."

The Public Places Bylaw is currently under review, but isn't expected to go out to public consultation for another year.