The ci' />
More than $200,000 of Auckland City ratepayers' money will be used to hire private security guards to get homeless people off the streets.
The city council yesterday agreed to put $220,000 towards paying for the guards, who will patrol central streets, enforce the council's bylaws to restrict any anti-social behaviour, and move homeless people along.
The council already has an annual $50,000 grant to address homelessness throughout the city.
But several councillors said last night that they did not agree with the move, as the increased private patrols would punish the marginalised and homeless.
Denise Roche, an independent, said: "Creating a private army to monitor rubbish bins, move buskers along and harass the homeless is a crazy thing to do with ratepayers' money - and it does nothing to address the problem of homelessness."
Ms Roche also said the more serious anti-social behaviour in the central city was alcohol-fuelled violence - a matter for the police rather than the council.
Labour councillor Richard Northey said it was unwise for the council to involve itself "willy-nilly" in the work that police and the hospitality industry should be responsible for.
Earlier this year, councillor Paul Goldsmith was criticised by some for wanting to implement a bylaw to get people off Auckland City streets.
Mr Goldsmith said at the time that the move was simply about enforcing standards for behaviour, which would apply to everyone.
City Vision councillor Cathy Casey acknowledged last night that Auckland City Mayor John Banks had stepped in at the time to reassure those living on the streets by saying they were welcome in the city.
"[Yesterday] councillor Goldsmith and his colleagues voted to fund private police to deal to the homeless," Dr Casey said. "Just what is welcoming about a ratepayer-funded uniformed security officer demanding that a homeless person move on or else?"