War of words erupts again over CBD itin­er­ants Home­less de­bate hits wall

Townsville Bulletin - - Inside Today - by Natalie Wynne wynne@ townsville­bul­letin. com. au

A WAR of words has erupted yet again be­tween Townsville City Coun­cil and the State Gov­ern­ment over the home­less­ness prob­lem plagu­ing the CBD.

There ap­peared to be new resol- ution af­ter the state, coun­cil and stake­hold­ers gath­ered for a round-ta­ble meet­ing last year to ad­dress the is­sue headon.

The tit-for-tat battle of pass­ing the buck while ig­nor­ing the real prob­lem is caus­ing the busi­ness hub to lose rev­enue, ac­cord­ing to civic lead­ers.

Cr Last

Townsville City Coun­cil Com­mu­nity Safety and Health Com­mit­tee chair­man Cr Dale Last said busi­nesses were be­ing an­noyed and cus­tomers were be­ing driven away.

‘‘ It’s hav­ing a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on their busi­ness be­ing ha­rassed and abused and it’s driv­ing away busi­ness,’’ he said.

Townsville MP Mandy John­stone said there had been nu­mer­ous com­plaints made to her of­fice about home­less peo­ple caus­ing trou­ble in the city. ‘‘ Anti-so­cial be­hav­iour won’t be tol­er­ated at any time and quite rightly peo­ple get up­set when they see that be­hav­iour,’’ she said.

‘‘ We have a very strong fo­cus on min­imis­ing be­hav­iour through po­lice and com­mu­nity pa­trol and a range of strate­gies have been worked on for many months.’’

Ms John­stone said the State Gov­ern­ment had ac­cepted re­spon­si­bil­ity for the ar­eas it had ju­ris­dic­tion over but more needed to be done by the coun­cil. ‘‘ In other ju­ris­dic­tions, which all have sim­i­lar prob­lems, coun­cils play a strong lead­er­ship role,’’ she said.

‘‘ My ques­tion is to the coun­cil: ‘ what are they do­ing to as­sist in this process?’ ’’

Cr Last hit back, ac­cus­ing Ms John­stone of pass­ing the buck.

‘‘ Our leg­isla­tive pow­ers are very lim­ited,’’ he said. ‘‘ Law and or­der, health and hous­ing . . . are State Gov­ern­ment re­spon­si­bil­ity.’’

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