The Rotorua Lakes Council has done a u-turn on CBD security, reinstating patrols and Safe City Guardians' security duties after pressure from the public.
The changes, announced today, followed a Rotorua Daily Post story where some retailers said they did not feel safe after patrols were cut this month, and guardians switched to "ambassador" roles.
In a council meeting on Thursday, mayor Steve Chadwick asked chief executive Geoff Williams why the change happened.
"I'm really concerned, and fielding concerns from the community, retailers, people in the CBD," she said.
"It seems to completely defy our partnership approach where we've said we will work alongside the police in partnership and bring the other partners that are relevant to help us build community confidence in public safety to be able to enjoy our CBD."
Williams said the need for inner-city security was reviewed after the Covid-19 level 4 lockdown.
"There was a significant drop in the number of people in the inner city, and that continued post the lockdown. So the level of security presence has been adjusted progressively over that period and there has been continued discussions with the police as to monitoring collaboration in response to this.
"As of today, given the concerns that have been expressed by inner-city retailers, we have reinstated a level of security back into the inner city."
Chadwick said that was a "relief" especially coming into summer.
"I'm glad that quick intervention has happened."
Watchdog Security chief executive officer Brett Wilson told the Rotorua Daily Post the council asked him this morning if he could reinstate his staff.
Wilson said when he was told his council contract was being axed, he couldn't argue with it as crime had definitely reduced in the central city. He said on some days his staff had nothing to do.
However, he said almost immediately since the patrols stopped, the issues had revived.
"There's no doubt since the patrols stopped, it's all started back up again."
He said in the past two weeks his staff had helped break up a gang brawl as well as a homeless couple from Auckland living in emergency housing in Rotorua having an argument in public toilets.
"I think it's a good idea to bring it back."
After the meeting, council operations manager Jocelyn Mikaere said there would be three Safe City Guardians in the CBD on Thursday, and from Friday two security firm staff would join them between 9am and 5pm.
"From next week, Wednesday to Saturday, two security firm staff will patrol the CBD between 5pm and 9pm, as we did previously."
She said the schedule and staffing would be reviewed and adapted as necessary.
"When we announced the refresh of the Guardians' role last month we said we would retain the flexibility to review and adapt according to community needs.
"All staff on the ground – Guardians and security firm staff – will have direct communication links with staff monitoring the inner city CCTV network and with police, to address any issues that arise.
"It remains important for people to report anti-social, suspicious and criminal behaviour to the police."
A council spokeswoman confirmed daytime patrols were previously three Safe City Guardians and up to four security firm staff members.
"Nighttime patrols starting next week are at previous levels."
She said the primary focus for Safe City Guardians would be security but there would "still be an element of an ambassadorial role".
The Daily Post has previously reported the security officers cost the council $28,000 a month during the peak summer period.
At the meeting, the council also signed off on minor changes to its gambling policy, sent a new open spaces policy out for public consultation, and agreed to grant additional delegations to hearing commissioners assigned to Plan Change 2: Pukehangi Heights.
Councillor Trevor Maxwell did not take part in the gambling policy decision and Cr Reynold Macpherson voted against the Pukehangi Heights decision.
• Additional reporting by Kelly Makiha