A legal challenge has been filed against begging and rough sleeping bans in certain parts of the city.

The Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust has filed an application in the Tauranga High Court asking for a judicial review by a high court judge of the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2019, citing several grounds in opposition.

The trust supports low-income earners to secure and maintain adequate housing.

A Tauranga City Council meeting on Tuesday heard the council had received the notice of the legal proceedings and the council's staff were working on a response.

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The revised bylaw, which came into effect on April 1, banned begging and rough sleeping within 5m of the entrances to shops and eateries in the Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton CBDs.

The new rules came about after business owners complained to the council that beggars and rough sleepers were causing them significant issues.

According to legal documents, the trust has argued the bylaw was a "disproportionate response" to these issues and breached the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act.

The trust also claimed the council failed to consult with beggars and rough sleepers directly about the bylaw.

It also challenged the council's ability to make some of the rules in the bylaw, saying they were "beyond the scope" of the council's powers under the Local Government Act.

It also said council "wrongly" used its powers to make bans that applied to all beggars and rough sleepers in an area, instead of regulating those who were causing a nuisance.

Banning begging was "inconsistent" with the right to freedoms of expression and peaceful assembly under the Bill of Rights.

Banning rough sleeping breached their rights to freedom of movement and residence, and was not justified "in a free and democratic society", the trust claimed.

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New bylaw for begging and rough sleeping

Begging and rough sleeping are prohibited within 5m of the public entrance to a retail or hospitality premises in defined CBD areas of Tauranga City, Greerton and Mount Maunganui.

The bylaw allows the council to remove any "material or thing using that public place in breach of the bylaw".

It can also take people to court and prosecute them under the Local Government Act 2002, which allows penalties of fines.

Source: Tauranga City Council