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