Rise in bad behaviour in Nelson CBD worries retailers

Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy  was so concerned with what he saw as a spike in anti-social behaviour in the city's ...
Martin de Ruyter

Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy was so concerned with what he saw as a spike in anti-social behaviour in the city's CBD that he issued a public call to action.

A rise in "bad behaviour" such as drunkenness, violence, abuse, theft, rubbish and broken glass in central Nelson has pushed a retail promoter to call for action.

Uniquely Nelson manager Simon Duffy sent an email on Tuesday urging Nelson retailers to write to authorities with their concerns.

Duffy's email said he spent a "great amount" of time over the Christmas/New Year period working with police to address issues raised by many retailers over the last six-months. It said retailers were at a stage where "something has to be done".

He said he had spent time on the street with police and several people were arrested and "some removed back to the towns they had come" in the North Island.

"But, I cannot achieve this alone," it read.

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A man is arrested following a brawl in Trafalgar St, Nelson during the middle of the day last week.
BRADEN FASTIER

A man is arrested following a brawl in Trafalgar St, Nelson during the middle of the day last week.

"The main area of concern is around the central crossing on Trafalgar St especially with drunks fighting ... This has to stop."

He said some retailers who opened up early had been abused, threatened and left with broken glass and rubbish outside their shop.

Duffy gave retailers until Friday to forward their concerns saying it was their "opportunity to have your voice heard and be part of the solution ... to have a set objective – to return the CBD back to you the retailers but more importantly, to your customers". 

"I have had people say, 'the police never turn up, what is the use?' Well that is not an excuse to do nothing."

Duffy said this week the material would be sent on to Nelson police and the city council in a "collective" and "positive" manner to achieve change in the area.

He was not sure what solutions could come from the retailers' information but said they could raise ideas to reduce people congregating at the Trafalgar St "spaghetti junction" off Bank Lane.

"This isn't a Lewis Stanton thing, this is just general behaviour around town. 

"There's lots of talk … the approach this time was; put your thoughts in writing so we can address this as a collective group."

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A man was arrested last week following a fight in the middle of Trafalgar St. Video footage that emerged following the punch-up showed two men shouting at each other before throwing punches outside the Farmers store.

The pair continued to fight on the courtesy crossing near Farmers before members of the public intervened and police arrived.

Duffy referred to the incident saying people tended to gather in the area.

However, when pressed about the ongoing issues which had motivated the email Duffy played the problems down saying the matters raised occurred in every town.

He said the email was "nothing out of the ordinary" and was part of his ongoing collaborations with retailers, police and the city council to improve visitor experience in the CBD.

Uniquely Nelson is funded by Nelson City Council on an annual basis and aims to encourage visitation and retail expenditure in central Nelson.

Retailers were reluctant to speak.

A Nelson retailer who did not want to be named out of fear for being identified said the fight in Trafalgar St last week was just one example that made her feel unsafe.

She said abuse from a member of the public once forced her to lock herself inside her shop. The woman said she had made a pact with a nearby retailer they would keep an eye on each other. "It worries me."

Nelson police acting area commander Senior Sergeant Blair Hall said police hoped to organise a meeting with Duffy this week to discuss the concerns raised in the email to better understand retailers' concerns.

He said issues arose in Nelson from time to time, but the town was generally a safe place and police were more than happy to sit down with retailers to discuss any issues.

Nelson police crime prevention manager Senior Sergeant John Price said police were patrolling the area  and encouraged businesses and the community to contact police if issues appeared.

"If people tell us when things are happening then we can respond and deal with them appropriately."

 - Stuff

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