MINUTES

Policy Committee Meeting

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

 


Policy Committee Meeting Minutes

29 January 2020

 

Order of Business

1          Apologies. 3

2          Public Forum.. 3

3          Acceptance of Late Items. 3

4          Confidential Business to be Transferred into the Open. 3

5          Change to Order of Business. 3

6          Declaration of Conflicts of Interest 3

7          Business. 3

7.1            Hearing of submitters on the proposal to remove the begging and rough sleeping provisions from the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018. 3

8          Discussion of Late Items. 11

 

 


Policy Committee Meeting Minutes

29 January 2020

 

 

MINUTES OF Tauranga City Council
Policy Committee Meeting
HELD AT THE Tauranga City Council, Council Chambers, 91 Willow Street, Tauranga
ON Wednesday, 29 January 2020 AT 9am

 

PRESENT:              Cr Dawn Kiddie (Chairperson), Mayor Tenby Powell, Cr Jako Abrie, Cr Larry Baldock, Cr Kelvin Clout, Cr Andrew Hollis, Cr John Robson, Cr Tina Salisbury

IN ATTENDANCE: Christine Jones (General Manager: Strategy & Growth), Coral Hair (Manager: Democracy Services), Robyn Garrett (Team Leader: Committee Support), Jenny Teeuwen (Committee Advisor), Raj Naidu (Committee Advisor)

 

 

 

1            Apologies

Committee Resolution  PO2/20/1

Moved:       Cr Dawn Kiddie

Seconded:  Cr Andrew Hollis

That apologies from Cr Bill Grainger, Cr Heidi Hughes, Cr Steve Morris, and Dr Wayne Beilby be received and accepted.

Carried

 

2            Public Forum 

Nil

3            Acceptance of Late Items

Nil

4            Confidential Business to be Transferred into the Open

Nil

5            Change to Order of Business

Nil

6            Declaration of Conflicts of Interest

Nil

7            Business

7.1         Hearing of submitters on the proposal to remove the begging and rough sleeping provisions from the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018

Committee Resolution  PO2/20/2

Moved:       Cr Kelvin Clout

Seconded:  Cr Andrew Hollis

That the Policy Committee:

(a)        Accepts the late submissions from Alan Reynolds and Graeme McCarthy to the proposal to remove the begging and rough sleeping provisions from the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018.

Carried

Committee Resolution  PO2/20/3

Moved:       Cr Kelvin Clout

Seconded:  Cr John Robson

That the Policy Committee:

(a)     Receives the verbal and written submissions to the proposal to remove the begging and rough sleeping provisions from the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018 from those that have indicated they wish to be heard (Attachment 1);

(b)     Receives the written submissions to the proposal to remove the begging and rough sleeping provisions from the Street Use and Public Places Bylaw 2018 from those that do not wish to be heard (Attachment 2); and notes the late submission from Alan Reynolds (submission number 373).

Carried

 

Hearing of Submissions

 

(1)          Submission no. 334 – Colleen Spiro

 

Key points

·         False beggars were an organised crime activity engaged in drug dealing and the police should have dealt with the issue more proactively.

·         Retailers were calling the police for assistance but did not receive the level of support they had expected.

·         Guards were hired by Tauranga City Council at the cost of ratepayers, but they had no enforcement powers and were rendered ineffective.

·         There was some confusion in the community regarding jurisdiction between the police and Tauranga City Council to enforce the bylaw.

·         The distinction between genuine beggars and those beggars engaged in criminal activities had been made clearer so that resources could be targeted to the issue.  

·         More detox and re-housing agencies should be explored as solutions.

·         The bylaw had worked because the criminal elements were gone but revocation could bring back beggars engaged in criminal activities.  

 

(2)        Submission no: 335 – Colleen Spiro – Street Retreat

 

Key points

·         The charity made its submission on behalf of the vulnerable not organised crime masquerading as the vulnerable.

·         Genuine rough sleepers struggled to understand the bylaw and did not want to be breaking the law or getting fined.

·         Street Retreat was a donation driven charity and unique in that it was able to spend time with the street whānau.

·         The charity fed up to forty people within the begging and homeless community and provided a safe environment for them to interact in sports, singing, charging phones and to access medical services.

·         Street Retreat assisted in connecting the street whānau to government agencies and support services.

·         The charity did not ask why the street whānau were on the streets.  People generally did not choose to live in the street or to beg but socio-economic issues such as high rent prices or debts and mental health issues forced them to do so.

·         Street Retreat supported revoking the bylaw because it believed that time and funds should be dedicated towards getting more housing and social services.

 

(3)          Submission no: 346 - Raewyn Whiteman CEO - For The Victims of Bullies Trust

 

Key points

·         For The Victims of Bullies Trust had been in operation for approximately nine years and was an advocacy charity with very little funding, working primarily with vulnerable children and teenagers at risk of bullying, suicide and homelessness.

·         In the last four years, the Trust had seen a significant rise in need for its service.

·         The Trust had also noticed that streets becoming unsafe for rough sleepers and the homeless.

·         Retailers in Greerton had suffered due to the begging behaviour and some had moved their business elsewhere.

·         The elderly no longer took public transport or walked the streets because of the aggressive begging.

·         The question of victim rights versus human rights had to be discussed and taken into consideration because the retailers and consumers had rights as well, and criminal begging was affecting these rights.

·         The Trust believed that there were significant differences between begging and homelessness.

·         Beggars had no intention of working and were begging to fund vice.

·         There had been harassment of tourists by beggars when the cruise ships were in Tauranga and there was a danger of someone getting injured and exposing the council to a potential civil suit.

·         According to the Trust, Vancouver had similar issues and attempted to undertake what Tauranga City Council were doing but had been overrun by the problem of begging. 

 

(4)          Submission no: 86 – Pip Brook

 

Key points

·         Submitter commended Tauranga City Council for reviewing the bylaw because in her view, the bylaw should not have been allowed to pass in the first place.

·         Numbers of homeless and beggars coming to Milo Monday nights had doubled.

·         Entire families were living in cars and in parks due to high rent prices and costs of living so homelessness was only going to increase over time.

·         Not all beggars were criminals, but the issue of aggressive begging was an enforcement matter for the police and best handled by them due to expertise and resources.

·         Due to the decline of the central business district, beggars had moved to other areas.

·         There needed to be more government and social service agencies in the central business district and Street Kai was working with stakeholders including Tauranga City Council on formulating a budget for a hub.

(5)          Submission no: 264 – Ian Smith

 

Key points

·         Submitter was a Street Kai volunteer but was presenting as a rate payer because he had lived in the central business district and in Greerton.

·         He believed that the bylaw would not stand up to legal challenge and it was a good thing that Tauranga City Council was revisiting the policy.

·         Considered that human rights had been ignored because there was no consultation with the vulnerable, rough sleepers, and beggars.

·         The submitter wanted to know what the motive of the Bylaw was and why it was written in an ‘all or nothing’ manner because, in his view, begging and rough sleeping should not have been put together particularly if the bylaw did not offer any solutions.

·         The bylaw was poorly written and thought out because it was unenforceable and should not have been implemented.  

·         Genuine nuisances had to be dealt with by the police in accordance with the law and not a bylaw.

·         The bylaw had considerable cost in its implementation and was subject to a legal challenge. These were additional costs to the ratepayer and that money could have been better spent in looking for a solution.

·         It was detrimental for Tauranga to be portrayed in this manner in the media and in public.

·         The bylaw had appeared to be working but this was mainly due to the publicity it attracted but for the vulnerable, it had only contributed to their confusion and anguish.

·         If the bylaw was not enforceable and was not a solution, then it should not be pursued at cost to the ratepayer.

 

(6)          Submissions no: 147 and 321 - Street Kai Chairperson - Tracey Maree Carlton

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation for this item can be viewed on Tauranga City Council’s website in the Minutes Attachments document for this committee meeting

 

Key points

·         Milo nights were started to provide hope and sanctuary for the vulnerable from being assaulted at night.

·         The submitter believed that the bylaw was not a solution because there were enforceable laws (by police) that dealt with nuisance and aggressive behaviours.

·         The consultative process for the bylaw had not included beggars and rough sleepers.

·         The cost of the legal case was yet another hit to the ratepayer and Tauranga City Council had missed an opportunity to collaborate for better community solutions.

·         The bylaw had pushed the vulnerable to parks and other areas which denied them basic human rights such as shelter, water, safety, lighting.

·         Tauranga City Council should refer to the social equity section of its own draft Community Wellbeing Strategic Plan 2018-21.

·         The bylaw affected the health, mental well-being, mana, and rights of beggars and rough sleepers and had been exacerbated due to punitive measures.

·         When the vulnerable had moved out from the central business district, they had lost access to food and toilets.

·         Retailers did not want people to sleep at their doorways, but shelters were often full, so beggars and rough sleepers had nowhere else to go.

·         The Tauranga City Council Mayoral Taskforce was looking into building housing and would engage with the begging and rough sleeping community to find collaborative solutions

Items for staff follow-up

·         Staff to provide cost figures of keeping the promises in the draft Community Wellbeing Strategic Plan 2018-21.

(7)          Submission no: 77 - Under the Stars - Beverley Edwards

A copy of the PowerPoint presentation for this item can be viewed on Tauranga City Council’s website in the Minutes Attachments document for this committee meeting.

 

Key points

·         Submitter did not believe that council would win a legal challenge to the bylaw in court and considered financial and public relations costs for Tauranga City Council were going to be significant.

·         An agreement was reached with the Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust who was prepared to withdraw the claims, but it did not get the required votes in Council to be successful.  

·         According to the submitter, the bylaw had contravened several laws including the Local Government Act 2002 because several affected communities and individuals were not included in the consultation process.

·         The homeless could not access the internet or media and were unable to participate but Tauranga City Council had needed to make more efforts to reach them.

·         The failure of the Tauranga City Council Community Project was a case in point of poor decision-making.

·         Under the Stars had interviewed beggars and rough sleepers who had agreed that there had to be some rules and guidelines governing rough sleeping and begging considering the needs of retailers, but they felt that the bylaw punished everyone. 

·         Tauranga could become a leading city in finding innovative solutions to issues of begging, rough sleeping, and homelessness.

 

(8)          Submission no: 352 – Fred (care of UTS)

Key points

·         Submitter lived in Edgecumbe Shelter.

·         Submitter was homeless, suffered from mental health, drug, and alcohol issues, and feared the bylaw because he did not understand it and did not want to break the law.

·         He had not asked to be a beggar, rough sleeper, and homeless but circumstances can change for any person, forcing them to live a life they did not want.  

·         Most rough sleepers and homeless slept in the central business districts or in front of doors because these areas would often be lighted and in front of cameras which made them feel safe from being assaulted.

·         Submitter had called the police for help previously because he had no one to look out for him and the cameras gave him a sense of safety.

·         There had been discussion about exploring options of opening a carpark or pop-up container shelters for rough sleepers, beggars and homeless to go and sleep at.

 

(9)          Submission no: 40 - Manager - Greerton Village Community Association - Sally Benning

Key points

·         The submitter had told councillors that the Greerton Village Community Association was under-represented at the hearing because most of the members were small business owners who could not afford to close their business to come to the hearing.

·         The elderly was vulnerable in Greerton and they were being harassed by aggressive beggars in a targeted move.

·         Consumer interaction and patronage at Greerton had dwindled due to these beggars.

·         Most consumers who had complained to Greerton Village Community Association did not report the matter to council or police which contributed to a lack of statistics.

·         Greerton Village Community Association supported genuine beggars but not the scammers and criminal aggressive beggars who were intimidating retailers and ratepayers.

·         The position of Greerton Village Community Association was to adopt the amended wording and accept removing the rough sleeping clause rather than accepting the complete revocation of the bylaw.

·         Greerton Village Community Association agreed that not all homeless were beggars and vice versa.

·         If the organised syndicate that was bringing in the fake beggars was removed, Greerton could revert to a manageable time where genuine beggars and retailers were able to coexist.  

 

(10)        Submission no: 324 - Keryn Hawkes

 

Key points

·         Submitter was a volunteer cook for Street Kai.

·         Most people who slept rough did not have safety nets such as insurance policies, savings or family support, particularly if their predicament was due to a natural disaster or disability.

·         It was very easy to become homeless and anyone could become homeless.  

·         The organised crime syndicate used young women to beg and they were aggressive.

·         The bylaw had hindered looking for collaborative solutions and rather than tweaking it, solutions should be explored because no one wanted businesses to collapse.

 

(11)        Submission no: 65 – Terry Molloy

 

Key points

·         A drop-in centre was needed during the day where people on the street could go, especially during winter.

·         There was no support to use the Tauranga Moana Hall as a drop-in centre because it was considered at the time that it was not Tauranga City Council’s responsibility to find housing and shelter.

·         The bylaw did not stop begging and there had not been any successful enforcement so needed to be pressure on central government.

·         If the bylaw was implemented, it would set a precedent for other councils to adopt similar bylaws and put pressure on central government.

·         Children were the most vulnerable within families who were sleeping rough.

·         Some were forced into homelessness because of cost factors such as rents, mortgages and other socio-economic pressures.

·         Rough sleepers were generally single, unemployed, and often addicted to drugs and other vices.

·         It was wrong to allow the community to be abused by scam beggars, so an amended bylaw could address this.

 

(12)        Submission no: 322 – Sally Benning

 

Key points

·         In 2017 there was a noticeable increase in organised begging of groups of ten or more individuals in Greerton.

·         The begging was in front of shops and often aggressive.

·         Beggars were walking into offices forcing them to lock their doors.

·         The submitter had been verbally and physically abused.

·         Since the bylaw had come into effect, Greerton had transformed to a better place with consumers returning.  

·         The bylaw protected the general public, the retailers, and the elderly.  

 

(13)        Submission no: 350 – Director – Kai Aroha – Tania Lewis-Rickard

 

Key points

·         Kai Aroha was a charity that started off with twenty dollars.

·         A homeless person had no voice as it was, and the bylaw further discriminated against them.

·         There was a need to keep connecting with the vulnerable so that they were not marginalised or alienated, and council could be a champion in this area.

·         The bylaw was broken, and resources should not be spent to fix it.

·         Community focused solutions were needed, and council needed to be in that space collaborating with community-based organisations such as Kai Aroha.

 

(14)        Submission no: 270 - Tauranga Budget Advisory Services – Rachel Pinn

Key points

·         Supported the removal of the begging and rough sleep clauses of the bylaw.

·         Tauranga Budget Advisory Services wanted to work with Council to find better solutions because the bylaw was not the answer.

·         Tauranga Budget Advisory Services was the largest such service of its type and could provide statistics on homelessness.

·         People who were living on the street were distrusting of laws and a bylaw further complicated this.

·         Council did not have be alone in addressing this issue and a collaborative approach was best suited to this complex problem.  

 

(15)        Submission no: 348 - Quest Tauranga Central - Craig McKenzie

Key points

·         Submitter had spoken specifically from the experiences of Quest which was a new established business in the central business district.

·         He had witnessed three to four rough sleepers but not all were being troublesome.

·         Sometimes rough sleepers had come into the premises and had to be evicted.

·         Some rough sleepers were becoming aggressive and bolder by getting to know staff movements and harassing based on that knowledge.

·         This had an impact on the business opening particularly in the laneway of the hotel because it had caused a lot of concerns to tourists and guests.

·         Quest staff that lived in Greerton thought, while not perfect, the bylaw was a good solution and was working in Greerton.

·         The five-metre rule had worked to some extent but the of lack of enforcement weakened the process.

·         There needed to be something in place before the bylaw was revoked or amended.

 

1pm – Mayor Tenby left the meeting.

 

(16)        Submission no: 311 - Mathew Manninen

Key points

·         Submitter spoke in the capacity of a business owner in Greerton.

·         Friends of the local beggars were contributing factors to causing issues.

·         Retailers should not be fearful of going to work.

·         Submitter played a phone recording of his wife being abused by a beggar.  

·         The cost to his business had increased because of hiring guards, installing security cameras and alarms.

·         Business owners were paying rates twice - business rates and property rates – and were not being heard.

·         Once the bylaw had been passed, it had made a difference in curbing the begging and encouraged personal safety.

·         Submitter had set up a pop-up store in Papamoa Plaza and former patrons of Greerton store were seen to be shopping in the Plaza, so it was evident that consumers were pushed away from Greerton.

·         Considered that if council had to go to court to keep the bylaw, then council should go to court because the bylaw was working.

·         Central government was silent in this issue and council was quite limited in what they could do.

 

(17)        Submission no: 87 - Oasis Bar and Grill – Andre

 

Submitter did not come.

 

(18)        Submission no: 374 - Social Link, Liz Davies

 

Key points

·         No one wanted to be a beggar or rough sleeper and it was a complex issue to address how some got to that stage.

·         A bylaw displaced the issue rather than addressed it because people had moved to different areas where the bylaw was not applicable.

·         Submitter sympathised with business owners on the issue they faced and believed that police should act under the Summary Offences Act to deal with aggression, offensive behaviour, and language.

·         Social Link applauded Tauranga City Council for the development of a homeless strategy and the announcement of the Mayoral Task Force because this was a step in the right direction.

·         Central government, iwi, local government, and community groups needed to share information and resources for a collaborative solution. 

·         Wellington City Council and Ministry of Social Development had done research on how to prevent and approach begging.

·         Social benefits needed to increase and central government needed to do its part. 

·         The multi-agency approach was different to the Mayoral Task Force because the latter had a much broader scope that included areas such as homelessness.

 

1.16pm – Meeting adjourned for lunch

1.51pm – Meeting reconvened

(19)        Submission no: 340 – Jan Ross

 

Key points

·         Submitter spoke as a business owner and was against the revocation of the bylaw.

·         Council should not be thinking of rolling back a process that was working.

·         The elderly, consumers, and retailers also had rights which the bylaw protected.

·         Solutions had to be found rather than to accept and tolerate the problems; complacency was not the answer.

·         Not all beggars were equal, and submitter was not against the vulnerable or rough sleepers if it had not come at the cost of her business and family.

·         New Zealand was not a third world country and there had to be safety nets to help these people who had fallen on hard times in society because they should be not left to languish on footpaths.

 

(20)     Submission no: 41 - Baywide Community Law Centre Housing Advocacy Service, Shard Loibl

 

Key points

·         Tauranga was the fifth most unaffordable city to live in terms of home ownership affordability.

·         A lot of homeless, rough sleepers and/or beggars had fallen into these situations due to the housing crisis.

·         Baywide Community Law Centre Housing Advocacy Service had the support of the Tauranga Housing Advocacy Trust.

·         The bylaw was contravening the Local Government Act 2002 and the Bill of Rights Act 1990.

·         The solution had to be sought collaboratively together with businesses, central government, social agencies, and community groups. 

·         The Summary Offences Act 1981 enabled police to enforce issues around nuisance, aggression, and bad behaviour. Under that Act, police could issue fines and take matters to court so begging by gangs and aggression/intimidation should be handled by police.

·         Emergency housing in Tauranga was difficult to source and people who needed the service were often asked to look at neighbouring towns/cities away from support networks because housing services were full.  

·         Enforcement of the bylaw required punitive jurisdiction and Tauranga City Council had no resourcing or expertise in this area.

 

(21)        Submission no: 375 - Graeme McCarty

 

A copy of the Tabled Item for this item can be viewed on Tauranga City Council’s website in the Minutes Attachments document for this committee meeting.

Key points

·         Submitter had a late submission which was tabled.

·         He had personally witnessed abuse and violence within public toilets.

·         He had called police because he believed a female was in imminent danger of assault.

·         Greerton’s demographic was mainly elderly who lived there because of easy access to shops and pharmacies but they felt unsafe going out into the community because of the fear of being harassed.

·         Other cities which had allowed this behaviour to continue, such as Hamilton, were now struggling.

·         The submitter had no problems with genuine beggars but believed that rough sleepers were the ones causing problems.

Attachments

1        Tracey Carlton - Presentation

2        Beverly Edwards - Presentation

3        Graeme McCarty - Tabled Item

 

8            Discussion of Late Items

Nil

 

The meeting closed at 2.23pm.

 

The minutes of this meeting were confirmed at the Policy Committee meeting held on 20 February 2020.

 

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CHAIRPERSON