No dedicated red light district

NICOLE MATHEWSON
Last updated 05:00 12/08/2014

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The Christchurch City Council has scrapped plans to provide street workers with temporary facilities on Manchester St because no-one could agree on a site.

The council had been working on a voluntary accord with the Prostitutes' Collective since November, promising to provide port-a-loos, a needle receptacle, lighting and security cameras.

Council strategic policy unit manager Alan Bywater said two potential sites for the temporary facilities had been identified, but both options fell through due to opposition from nearby residents and businesses.

The first was opposite the St Luke's Church on Manchester St, the other where the national library used to be, also on Manchester St.

"The accord is really the only option that's come forward and we've taken a step back from that," Bywater told a public meeting last night.

Manchester St residents, fed up with noise and rubbish outside their homes, met with city councillors, police and social agencies to discuss their concerns.

Shirley-Papanui councillor Ali Jones said the fact the accord had failed to move forward after months of work showed a law change was the only way to address the issues.

"I cannot see any other way to sort this. You will not educate the street workers - we've tried that. We can't make them go somewhere else," she said.

Manchester St resident Matt Bonis said the area north of Bealey Ave was quiet while road works were carried out recently, but prostitutes had started moving north of Bealey Ave again.

"We started with one or two in 2011, then it became 15, 16. It was horrendous every night," he said.

Prostitutes' Collective regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said they had been encouraging sex workers to consider moving to Latimer Square, but the area was too small and nearby businesses were against the idea.

Inspector Derek Erasmus said Manchester St was the most policed street in the city, but prosecuting people was not enough.

In the 18 months to June 30, police made 140 arrests in the area of Manchester St near Bealey Ave, recorded 1130 driving-related offences and carried out 1375 "proactive activities", such as foot patrols and stopping vehicles.

"We will not arrest our way out of these issues. Simply prosecuting and prosecuting - we can do that forever, but it's not going to fix it," he said.

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