Bylaw gathers support
Business associations are welcoming a law change that would help put a stop to begging.
The Auckland Council’s draft public safety and nuisance bylaw would ban begging in a way that might intimidate or be considered a nuisance.
‘‘Some media have been talking about it being a begging ban but if you’re not causing a nuisance and nobody complains then you can beg. If you are being intimidating and someone complains you will be moved on,’’ councillor Mike Lee says.
He says existing bylaws around begging are ineffective and council officers and police presently have few options available to deal with it.
Mr Lee says the new bylaw isn’t draconian and beggars facing issues like homelessness and substance addiction will be offered help.
Dominion Rd Business Association manager Gary Holmes regularly gets complaints about beggars.
‘‘It’s a fairly recent phenomenon in New Zealand and I was surprised to see it on Dominion Rd but it definitely lowers the tone of the area,’’ he says.
‘‘Part of the reason is that we have halfway houses and mental health residences on Dominion Rd. They do tend to attract it.
‘‘Often beggars are harmless enough but other times they can cause problems,’’ he says.
The association has employed a security guard and beggars are moved on. ‘‘There are situations where they are professional fundraisers and we don’t want to encourage that.
‘‘We recognise in some cases people are down on their luck but in Auckland there are agencies to help,’’ Mr Holmes says.
Onehunga Business Association manager Amanda Kinzett says while beggars are hardly overrunning the area they are a visible problem.
She has seen children as young as 12 and 13 intimidating visitors.
‘‘They are substance abusers and they are asking people for money constantly, it’s awful,’’ she says.
‘‘I can ask our security person to stand around which intimidates them and if they know they’re being watched they’ll move on but you end up with an aggressive environment.’’
Albert-Eden Local Board member Pauline Anderson says the bylaw would help ease vagrancy and begging problems that have arisen in Mt Albert ( Central Leader, 2012).
‘‘Some would say there are already laws to deter it but I think its good to have the bylaw. It’s like anything, if someone is just sitting there being friendly and quiet, nobody is going to complain. It’s a bit different if someone is being intimidating and sniffing a bag of glue while they’ve got their cap out,’’ she says.
It is expected that the draft bylaw will be passed within a month.
Moving on: Business associations are among those welcoming the Auckland Council’s draft public safety and nuisance bylaw.