Consultation opens today on Tauranga City Council's draft Prostitution Bylaw 2019.

The bylaw ensures residents and visitors feel safe and enjoy the city by preventing harm and minimising the potential for offence from prostitution-related activity.

Prostitution was decriminalised in New Zealand in 2003. Council was unable to prohibit the activity in Tauranga, but could adopt a bylaw to determine where brothels could operate and how they could advertise their services in our city.

The council had proposed some changes to the rules, to make sure the bylaw continued to tackle all the issues it needed to.

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Full details of all the changes and why the council was proposing to make them were available on council's website

The community could provide feedback on the draft bylaw by completing the online submission form. Paper copies were also available at the council's customer service centre at 91 Willow St and in city libraries.

This formal consultation process was the opportunity for the community to have their say before the changes became law. The consultation period ends on Friday, March 1.

Submission hearings will take place on Tuesday, March 26. The community's feedback will then be used to propose a final revised bylaw for adoption by the council later this year.

Bylaws helped make sure people could live, work and play in Tauranga safely and free from nuisance. They protected Tauranga's environment and people's enjoyment of public places, and allowed the council to minimise the potential for offensive behaviour.

Not complying with a bylaw could result in fines, prosecutions and seizure of property.

Proposed changes include:

• Adding a definition of a "small owner-operated brothel" (a brothel with no more than four sex workers)

• Adding a definition of an "operator" (a person who owns, operates, controls or manages the business)

• Removing the requirement for a premises consent

• Amending signage and advertising restrictions so they are in line with our Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018

• Requiring all brothels, including brothels with four or less workers, to be a minimum 100 metres from schools and places of worship.

- Other minor changes, for clarity and consistency, are also proposed.