Foul language and spitting could be banned from central Hastings in an effort to discourage anti-social behaviour.
Retailers at a public meeting last night spoke of young people brawling in the streets and intimidating the public.
Hastings District Council called the meeting after a man in his 60s was assaulted by a group of youths during the weekend.
Angry shop workers said councillors and police were not doing enough to prevent young people loitering on the streets, throwing bottles and shoplifting.
Parents said their teenage children were too scared to walk into town at night and, if they wore red, regarded as the Mongrel Mob colour, they were "set upon".
Hastings Mayor Lawrence Yule said it was a small group of "bored" and "anti-social" youths causing concern. Reported crime in the city was relatively low, but he understood there was considerable anxiety about safety in the city.
He emphasised it was not an easy problem to fix, and believed the Government's "weak-kneed" response to controlling psychoactive substances did not help.
Bylaws could be introduced to prevent foul language and spitting in the city, Mr Yule said.
When the William Nelson Park is officially opened early next month, the council will reintroduce a zero-tolerance policy towards skateboards in the central city.
The council had several initiatives in the pipeline to make the city more attractive for visitors and locals. City "ambassadors" were being trained to answer queries from shoppers and visitors, and a night market was expected to open this summer.
Inspector Tania Kura said the problem could not be fixed by police alone.
"Bring your energy into the solutions," she told the meeting.
The meeting called for Maori wardens to be brought into the city to patrol the streets during the day, and for the council to follow up concerns with another meeting six months down the track.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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