Two petitions are circulating in Palmerston North calling for a bylaw against begging and legal-high shops.
The petitions, driven by a woman who wished only to be known as Elizabeth, said the idea stemmed from the problems Broadway Ave faced with beggars and new legal-highs store The Paradise, but those issues were not isolated to that street alone.
Elizabeth worked in Broadway Ave but did not want the shop mentioned for fear of "repercussions". She had been in contact with other retailers in the street and they developed a group called Passionate about Broadway.
The group had not yet held a meeting, but she had contacted many Broadway Ave retailers, who had supported the idea of presenting their concerns as a united front, she said.
One of the petitions asked for a bylaw banning "begging and/or loitering" in Palmerston North, and the other seeks a bylaw to ban shops selling legal highs within one kilometre of "sensitive" organisations in Palmerston North.
Organisations listed include all areas where children, young adults and people with "mental issues" congregate, childcare centres, education facilities, churches, playgrounds libraries and welfare organisations.
The Palmerston North Safety Advisory Board's Give Wisely campaign, which encouraged people to donate to charity instead of giving to beggars, was "good as far as it went", but didn't go far enough, she said.
She did not expect to collate the petition papers until the end of the month, and wanted to get them into schools if possible.
Another petition - led by Palmerston North MP Iain Lees-Galloway - asking for a bylaw to regulate legal-high stores, was presented to the council in August.
It was accepted, but council head of strategy and policy Neil Miller said that although research into a policy could start now, the committee process wouldn't begin until next year.
It was "uncharted territory" and the council would be looking at what other councils around the country were doing. Careful consideration would have to be given so that regulations were not subject to legal challenge.
Elizabeth said she did not accept that the council couldn't do something about it before then if it was urgent.
Mr Miller said beggars were "only there because people give them money, so the solution is for people not to give".
Attempts to ban begging in other cities had not worked and action against begging was not supported by the judicial system.
The council did not have staff able to prevent people from begging and it was difficult to see how they could enforce an "anti-begging"' bylaw, he said.
"We take a low-key approach, ensuring that people are linked to the right agencies and discouraging individuals from begging."
The Safety Advisory Board will relaunch the Give Wisely Campaign later this month after a survey revealed it had helped deter people from donating to beggars.
Council communications adviser Daniel O'Regan said the campaign would be promoted more widely than it was when it launched in December last year.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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