Larry Williams: Beggars turning city into a cesspit

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Listen to Larry Williams on Newstalk ZB from 4pm to 7pm. Today he looks at moves by two Auckland councillors to ban begging.
Photo / Michael Craig, Herald on Sunday
Photo / Michael Craig, Herald on Sunday

Finally, two Auckland City councillors are stepping up to the plate to deal with the scourge of beggars in the city.

George Wood and Callum Penrose have declared war on the exponential rise of beggars across the city, in particular the CBD, and they want the Auckland council to revisit the current bylaw that is not working. They have the courage to pick this mess up. Pity the liberal hand-wringers in council didn't have the same fortitude.

There is expected to be some resistance to the complete ban on begging that Wood and Penrose are proposing.

Mayor Len Brown and his deputy Penny Hulse have been missing in action on begging and allowed this terrible look to denigrate the city. Sadly, they are not alone in ignoring the issue.

Interestingly, most of the Auckland mayoral candidates don't seem to bothered with the beggars either. They have scoffed at Sir Bob Jones' pertinent point on the beggars.

Jones said, "The degrading spectacle of as many as 10, obese, circa 30-year old shameless Maori slobs lying against shop windows with a paper cup on lower Queen Street is a disgrace, the first mayoral candidate to promise a ban on begging will sail into office."

It's untenable. People surely don't want this.

Not so Auckland mayoral candidates Victorian Crone and John Palino. They will not ban beggars. It's the usual politically correct waffle from them - a coordinated response with police, social agencies, central government, community groups to develop a comprehensive plan for these sorts of issues, blah blah blah. The professional beggars can't believe their luck... for now.

Of the other mayoral candidates, Mark Thomas has the gumption to ban them, Penny Bright, well, who cares - she should just pay her rates bill, and Phil Goff didn't return calls, so we don't know. Maybe it's in the 'too hard' basket for Goff.

Why not just ban beggars? Why not ban giving to beggars? What the hell is so hard about banning beggars?

By the way, forget the police in this discussion, they pretty much don't exist in the CBD. I never see them. They even closed down their Fort Street station. The cops don't walk the beat anymore - which is another disgrace.

So, in the immediate term, it's up to councillors Wood and Penrose to tackle the beggars who are rapidly turning the city into a cesspit.

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