Some businesses in the Rotorua CBD say they are afraid due to some of the behaviour on the streets. Some say they have been abused and threatened. Carmen Hall talks to some of them and gets reaction from the council and police.
Rotorua CBD retailers have raised safety fears and some say they are afraid after being verbally abused and threatened with two owners being told ''go back to your own country''.
The council acknowledges there are still incidences in the city centre but has increased security, which costs $28,000 a month, and is continuing to work closely with the police.
However, The Lucky Lottery Shop owner Kulwant Singh said those threats, yelling and abuse which were targeted at him did not make him feel good and "of course, I am afraid".
"Everyone is losing business as some people are too scared to come to town."
In other incidences, Singh said he helped a bloodied 73-year-old who was pushed over in the street and Chinese tourists who sought shelter in his shop - one with a bleeding face - after a gang of youths snatched their camera and handbag.
"Every day there is something bad going on."
He said he had been told to "go back to your own country" on one occasion.
Police have previously been called to the shop and a police spokesperson said a person was arrested at The Lucky Lottery Shop for allegedly shoplifting and speaking threateningly last week.
And Singh is not alone. Other business owners spoken to by the Rotorua Daily Post say the presence of homeless people, streeties, drug dealers and gangs were having a big impact.
Bedstop managing director Dave Prendergast is calling it a day after 20 years.
He blames himself for not moving out of the CBD earlier and social issues that had landed on his doorstep.
"Part of the problem is that the CBD is fighting for its life to survive ... and there are social issues of safety through the aggression of people who are high on various drugs like synthetics and meth. I am continually picking up point bags around my shop with residues of these drugs."
Prendergast also said he had experienced many dangerous situations and confrontations.
But it was still "totally heart wrenching to be closing".
"I am a positive person and I will pick up the pieces and restart. I am here until the end of November and then I will be looking at getting a job."
Hennessy's Irish Bar owner Reg Hennessy said there was an underbelly of crime in the CBD and "it's a very unhealthy environment for Rotorua at the moment".
"Something horrible will happen and then everyone will run for cover.
"Every retailer in this town has a horror story."
Hennessy said two factors had exacerbated the issue which was the huge proliferation of homeless people and a lot of empty shops.
He did not want to sound negative but said the whole community, central government and local government needed to acknowledge the problem.
"Once we have done that then we can all get together and hopefully solve it."
Capizzi Restaurant and Pizzeria owner Vasu Sewalkar said he had been racially abused, told to go back to his own country and people doing drugs and drinking alcohol on the streets were causing trouble.
"We don't mind people speaking clearly if they have a problem but yelling in front of the shop is not good."
Rotorua Lakes Council inner-city manager Richard Horn said it co-ordinated safety patrols of the inner-city streets, provided CCTV monitoring, and met with police once a week to share information and discuss concerns as part of a collaborative safety campaign.
"The aim is to provide a safe and friendly inner-city environment for businesses, their staff and the public by deterring anti-social and criminal behaviour and dealing promptly with any emerging issues or incidents.
"We know there are still issues but many incidents are being de-escalated before they become a problem and we continue to receive positive support and feedback from the public and inner-city businesses."
Threatening and criminal behaviour were not acceptable and the council strongly encouraged the public to call the police, he said.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick also said people's safety was paramount.
"That's why the council has increased surveillance and patrols and why we're continuing to work closely with police.
"Alongside these existing safety initiatives, having more people in the inner city also helps to deter anti-social and criminal behaviour and we will continue to look for ways to encourage inner-city living and activity that attracts people."
The council would be setting its priorities in the coming months for the next few years and the inner city and safety had already been highlighted as challenges that needed addressing, she said.
"So we will be looking at what's next there and determining actions to be taken."
Acting area command Inspector Brendan Keenan said the combined efforts of the council, security guards and its community constable was a great initiative which was launched last year.
He said the police had been doing prevention work with fog canons at outlying dairies and taverns which had been targeted for aggravated robberies.
"These are a lot more higher level than your basic security and we are looking at that project which could be used in other shops."
But Keenan urged people to call 111 in threatening situations.
Chamber of Commerce chief executive Bryce Heard said no concerns about safety had been raised by members.
"From time to time in the past we have but in recent weeks we haven't had any."
Destination Rotorua has been approached for comment.
• A team of 10 patrollers are rostered on from 8am to 3am depending on the day and time of week.
• There is a focus on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday nights when the city is busier.
• The current cost of this initiative is about $28,000 per month.
- Source: Rotorua Lakes District Council