Proposed beggar ban bylaw divides Aucklanders

By Paul Harper

A proposed bylaw to rid Auckland's streets of beggars has divided New Zealand Herald readers.

An initial draft of the bylaw by Auckland Council banned asking for money, food, other items or soliciting donations "in a manner that may intimidate or cause a nuisance to any person".

Read more about the proposed bylaw here.

At 1.30pm, a poll on nzherald.co.nz found 69 per cent were in favour of a ban, with 22 per cent against and 9 per cent unsure.

We asked our readers to share their thoughts on the proposed bylaw and found opinion fairly equally split.

Santino felt street people should be cared for by New Zealand's welfare system and should not need to beg.

"To beg on streets is such a degrading act for the people in need and should certainly have no place in a civilised culture."

Le Fox said the council "definitely needs to clean up the streets".

"The city streets have become obstacle courses, stepping over legs, hats, boxes, bowls, side-stepping outstretched arms, not being able to sit on seats as they are taken up by drunks, and vagrants."

Others were opposed to the proposal.

"This is sort of a clamp down on personal freedom, so why not just penalise those who become pestering or aggressive?" Gandalf wrote.

"If we were to ban people from begging in the street, what kind of precedent are we setting for civil liberty? Are we suggesting that whoever we don't like on the public street should be put aside somewhere else?" JDog asked.

Many felt charity collectors and buskers were more of a nuisance on Queen Street than beggars.

"I get bothered by ten times as many pushy, obnoxious charity bucket-shakers and clipboarders than homeless beggars. Ban the pushy charity collectors first, please," Dread Pirate Roberts said.

On Twitter, Claire Flack questioned whether the council would have any luck moving beggars on.

"Auckland council can't even move on loud buskers who overstay their pitch, they'll have no chance moving beggars on!" she wrote. "Besides moving them on doesn't solve the problem, perhaps these high end stores could assist with finding a solution not quick fix."

Georgina O'Reilly was dismayed at the proposal.

"Absolutely flabbergasted that this is even being considered! Is there an empathy drought or something?!" she wrote.

Others welcomed the assurance from council that beggars would be given the necessary support, not just "thrown outside the city gates".

We also asked readers on Facebook for their thoughts. Many doubted how effective the ban would be.

"Surely shouldn't we be looking to solve the root causes of homelessness and begging, rather than simply just banning it," Daniel Preston-Jones said.

Michelle Daugulis said action should only be taken if street people become violent or cause nuisance.

"Most I have seen are harmless and very friendly. Really what harm are they doing?"

Some supported the measure.

"We have systems in place to help people like this, it's time they used them," Jeremy Hope argued.

"Begging is a lifestyle choice. Our social welfare system is way too generous as it is . Perhaps runaway homeless kids may have a case, but they aren't the 'beggars' we are talking about," Audrey Bairstow said.

- NZ Herald

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