Busi­nesses call to ban beg­ging

Central Leader - - YOUR LOCAL NEWS - JACK­SON THOMAS

Beg­gars are in­tim­i­dat­ing shop­pers and need to be banned from Auck­land’s CBD, business own­ers say.

A sur­vey by business as­so­ci­a­tion Heart of The City showed that of 300 busi­nesses that re­sponded, 93 per cent wanted more done to ban beg­gars from the CBD.

Business own­ers said they felt beg­gars were im­pact­ing business by de­ter­ring cus­tomers from en­ter­ing their shops.

Heart of The City chief ex­ec­u­tive Viv Beck said it would use the in­for­ma­tion col­lected from the sur­vey to de­cide its next course of action. Cus­tomers were avoid­ing shops which had beg­gars set up out­side, Beck said.

‘‘One business I spoke to told me last week they had to close early be­cause they feared for staff and their cus­tomers when be­hav­iour out­side be­came ag­gres­sive.’’

Polls on so­cial net­work Neigh­bourly.co.nz, which at­tracted 350 re­sponses, showed 53 per cent of peo­ple thought beg­gars were a nui­sance, 35 per cent said beg­gars weren’t harm­ing any­one, and 12 per cent felt it was a non-issue.

Auck­land beg­gar Edd, who did not want his last name pub­lished, said he had been on the streets of Auck­land beg­ging for more than 30-years.

He said it was ‘‘just a few bad eggs’’ ru­in­ing it for the rest of them.

‘‘I am one of the older ones now and I try and tell the young guys to be­have and stay out of the way. For busi­nesses I un­der­stand they don’t like us but they have to un­der­stand it’s only a few that are ru­in­ing it. Most of us are peace­ful and don’t bother any­one.’’

Auck­land Cham­ber of Com­merce chief ex­ec­u­tive Michael Bar­nett said ‘‘trans­port­ing the prob­lem’’ was not the an­swer.

There were is­sues around safety and se­cu­rity for busi­nesses, but the city needed to work with busi­nesses to fix the prob­lem, not move it on, he said.

‘‘Beg­ging and home­less­ness are dif­fer­ent prob­lems but both are about peo­ple so we should find a so­lu­tion that de­liv­ers dig­nity and ad­dresses the real prob­lem,’’ Bar­nett said.

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