Bernard Orsman

Bernard Orsman is Super City reporter for the NZ Herald.

Power to move beggars on becomes law

Heart of the City, Smith & Caughey and the Onehunga Business Association were accused of being heartless for requesting the begging bylaw. Photo / Michael Craig
Heart of the City, Smith & Caughey and the Onehunga Business Association were accused of being heartless for requesting the begging bylaw. Photo / Michael Craig

Beggars who are considered intimidating or to be causing a nuisance will be banned from Auckland's streets under a bylaw passed by Auckland Council yesterday.

Council officers have been given the power to deal with beggars who intimidate shoppers, but in a manner that treats them with compassion, says Mike Lee, the councillor overseeing the Public Safety and Nuisance Bylaw.

People will still be able to ask for money, food or other items, but complaints to the council about intimidating behaviour or causing a nuisance will be dealt with under the bylaw, which will come into effect on May 26 next year.

The bylaw also focuses on window washers deemed intimidating and people creating a nuisance through the playing of instruments, public address systems and amplified sound systems.

Mr Lee said the bylaw was not a ban on busking, but nuisance noise. Busking would be dealt with through a street-trading bylaw.

Calls by Heart of the City, Smith & Caughey department store and the Onehunga Business Association asking for begging to be outlawed were criticised by councillor Cathy Casey, who claimed the "heartless and unnecessary" bylaw had been unduly influenced by the three submitters.

Heart of the City chief executive Alex Swney said the power to move someone on was needed when all else failed. Most of the time, organisations such as the Auckland City Mission or Lifewise could help defuse problems.

Simon Robinson, 43, a beggar on Queen St, said he did it for about three hours a day and felt he had the right to do so.

Banning begging, he said, was a "bit fascist" and "stepping towards a police state".

Public Safety and Nuisance bylaw

What it saysA person must not use a public place to: beg, in a manner that may intimidate or cause a nuisance to any person; wash or offer to wash a vehicle or any part thereof, in a manner that may be unsafe or intimidate or cause a nuisance, or cause an obstruction to traffic; create a nuisance through the use of playing of any instrument (musical or otherwise), any type of public address system or any type of amplified sound system, or by making any excessive sound or noise.

Nuisance is defined as: a person, animal or thing or circumstance causing unreasonable interference with the peace, comfort or convenience of another person whether or not that person is in a public place.

- NZ Herald

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