Tauranga is close to banning begging and rough sleeping around shops and eateries in three of its CBDs.

A Tauranga City Council committee has narrowly passed a controversial recommendation to ban begging and rough sleeping within 5m of public entrances to retail and hospitality premises in the Tauranga, Mount Maunganui and Greerton CBDs.

The vote of the committee, which included all members of the council, will go to a full council meeting for a final vote before the bans become official.

After a split 5-5 vote on the begging ban, chairman Terry Molloy used his casting vote to push the recommendation through.

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The return to the meeting of Councillor Max Mason put the rough sleeping ban vote at 6-5 in favour. Mason told the Bay of Plenty Times he would have also voted for the begging ban.

The debate was heated at times, with councillors against the bans levelling claims of moral injustices against vulnerable people and saying that the bans would limit people's rights, be unenforceable, would move the problems to other areas and could expose the council to huge legal risk if challenged under the Bill of Rights or Local Government Act.

Supporters said the bans were reasonable restrictions, were worth a try given the size of the problem, would send a strong message to Governments, gave retailers a tool to tell people to move on and that council was committed to ensuring help was available to people in genuine need.

The council has spent a year investigating and consulting on the bans, which were first proposed by committee chairman Councillor Terry Molloy last November in response to concerns from city retailers.

Councillors on both sides of the debate commended Molloy's work on the issue, saying he was compassionate, had worked tirelessly with the social sector on solutions to homelessness issues and had wrestled with the moral issues presented by the bans.

Molloy said enforcing the ban was a last resort.

"We are not going to arrest, fine or put people into jail. This enables us to work with them and others to find suitable help.

"Yes, we may need to - occasionally and with police help - remove someone to a place where they can get help."

The councillors included a provision allowing them to extend the geographical areas the bans applied to in the future if other areas could prove problems with begging and rough sleeping.


How they voted
Begging ban
For: Terry Molloy, Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout, Bill Grainger, Mayor Greg Brownless, Larry Baldock
Against: Rick Curach, Leanne Brown, John Robson, Steve Morris, Catherine Stewart
Casting vote: Terry Molloy
Absent: Max Mason

Rough sleeping ban
For: Terry Molloy, Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout, Bill Grainger, Mayor Greg Brownless, Larry Baldock, Max Mason
Against: Rick Curach, Leanne Brown, John Robson, Steve Morris, Catherine Stewart