Beggar bylaw being fast-tracked

Café Essence (pictured) and Greerton Lotto each had their windows damaged on Thursday evening.

A bylaw banning begging on the streets of Tauranga is to be fast-tracked after two shops in Greerton Village reportedly had their windows smashed on Thursday night by homeless people fighting.

The decision was made on Friday afternoon at a meeting involving more than 10 retailers and members of council.

The meeting was initiated by Tauranga City Council, says Greerton Mainstreet manager Sally Benning. Greerton Mainstreet were requested to rally some of the retailers who had been affected to listen to what they had to say.

“We need something done much more urgently than the bylaw," says Sally.

"The issue of beggars on our streets is affecting many Greerton business owners and customers coming into Greerton shops.

“The two shops who have been affected in particular are very annoyed, but it isn’t anything new. The problem has been going on for a very long time.”

A notice of motion was filed at the end of last year by councillor Terry Molloy and seconded by Bill Grainger, proposing to ban begging and sleeping rough in the city.

While they wish to ban sleeping rough only in the central business district, begging is to be banned ‘city wide’, according to the Notice of Motion.

In addition the motion states council will urgently work with the community and central government partners to put in place support for those in genuine need.

Belinda Sands, owner of Greerton Lotto and one of the affected businesses, says she is satisfied with the outcome of the meeting, as long as it happens.

Belinda says: “In the short term a decision has been made to increase security at Greerton Village and at the same time, council has indicated they’re also going to try to speed up the bylaw.

“Hopefully this will ensure our customers feel safe. It’s unfortunate that there is a need for security, when this is all being caused by just one group of people.

“It shouldn’t be necessary, I’ve been here 16 years and we’ve never needed it before.”

Belinda is now encouraging members of public to make submissions to council on the bylaw.

“Let them know how important this bylaw is. We’re not aiming it at the true homeless, what we’re trying to do is stop these people who are distorting the system.”

Councilor Terry Molloy says the meeting went as well as it could.

He says council’s two-pronged approach came to be as a result of urgency and necessity.

“I’ve made commitments and promises to the community and I’ve just ended up with egg on my face," he says.

"We move fairly quickly very much supported by the mayor and our CEO.

“We met with these retailers, talked through the issue and went out armed with what we were going to do."

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