A Tauranga councillor has staked his job on the positive impact of the begging and rough sleeping bans Tauranga City Council has passed today.
The council voted 6-5 to ban begging and rough sleeping within five metres of the public entrances to retail or hospitality premises in the Tauranga City, Greerton and Mount Maunganui CBDs.
The bans will become law on April 1, 2019, as part of the council's revised Street Use and Public Places Bylaw.
Councillor Terry Molloy, who proposed begging or rough sleeping bans a year ago and defended them against other councillors who said the bylaw would make no difference, told the meeting today that he was happy to put his job on the line.
"I am happy to resign ... after this has had a decent trial if there is no [positive] change."
On how the bylaw would be enforced he said: "Are we going to arrest people and fine them or put them in jail? No, we will not. We are going to work with them."
Molloy said the measures of success would be a marked reduction in beggars and rough sleepers in the targeted areas, the community feeling a higher level of comfort with their security in those areas, happier retailers and no proof the problem had moved elsewhere.
He emphasised the bylaw on its own could not achieve everything, and that it was one of several ongoing efforts to ensure no one in Tauranga had to sleep or beg on the streets to survive.
Angela Wallace, the chairwoman of a trust that runs the Street Retreat for homeless people and is working to bring a women's shelter to Tauranga, said she was gutted.
"I am gutted for our vulnerable people on the streets of Tauranga Moana. I think Mahatma Ghandi said it best when he said the measure of any society was
He Kaupapa Kotahitanga Trust Tauranga
Te Tuinga Whanau Social Services Trust chief executive Tommy Willson backed Molloy: "I'll stake my job on it too".
Wilson, whose trust worked with homeless people, applauded the council's decision to pass the bylaw and Molloy's "bravery" in pursuing it.
He said the bylaw had brought into the open an honest discussion about homeless people and beggars, those in genuine need and those feeding addictions or growing gang's finances.
"It's easy to talk about this and take the easy way out and say 'oh this is so wrong, you're just going to push it out to the suburbs'. No it's not, it;s going to address the issues and no one is going to be dragged kicking and screaming off the streets."
The council's policy staff estimated the bylaw would cost $215,000 a year to enforce - covering an extra enforcement officer, another related role and potential prosecution costs - but the council voted unanimously to commit no extra funding for enforcement in its next budget.
How they voted:
For: Mayor Greg Brownless, Deputy Mayor Kelvin Clout, Terry Molloy, Larry Baldock, Max Mason, Bill Grainger
Against: Steve Morris, John Robson, Leanne Brown, Catherine Stewart, Rick Curach.
A week ago a council committee, which included all elected members, recommended the bans.
The resolutions passed by a one-vote majority and would do so again today if no one changed their vote.
In a 1pm meeting, the council is scheduled to vote on adopting the new rules as part of the Street Use and Public Places bylaw.
Today's decision will come almost a year to the day after Councillors Terry Molloy and Bill Grainger put the bans on the council's agenda via a November 21 notice of motion.
Molloy made the proposal after surveying retailers and finding that issues relating to beggars and homeless people were one of their biggest complaints.
Many retailers have strongly supported the bans and have shared stories about the impacts on their staff and businesses.
The council faced immediate resistance from social agencies and community groups that worked with homeless people.
The council's own legal advisors tried to steer the council towards a gentler approach.
They recommended the council ban aggressive and intimidating begging, but councillors felt that was toothless and asked for a stronger option.