Sex workers return to residential street

JOELLE DALLY
Last updated 17:08 23/07/2014
Pauline Cotter
HOSTING PUBLIC MEETING: Councillor Pauline Cotter said opposition from residents had prevented an accord with sex workers getting off the ground.

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Angry Manchester St residents are at their ''wit's end'' after sex workers returned to the neighbourhood following months of quiet.

Road works at the corner of Bealey Ave and Manchester St gave residents a brief reprieve after three years of late-night noise, drug dealing, harassment and finding used condoms and faeces on their properties.

Prostitutes had moved into the area after the earthquake shut down the central city.

Some sex workers had returned to north of Bealey Ave since the road works were completed in May, father-of-two Matt Bonis said.

Prostitutes' Collective regional co-ordinator Anna Reed said it was ''working on it [the issue]''. 

Police plan to increase patrols in the area to prevent problems escalating.

Christchurch City Councillors Pauline Cotter and Ali Jones will host a public meeting on the issue next month.

Bonis said he and his neighbours were running out of patience.

He wrote to MPs, city councillors and the collective on Sunday after five nights of ''disturbance''.

He pleaded with them to find a permanent solution, something he said appeared to have been put in the ''too hard'' basket.

Long-time neighbours had left the area, but been forced to rent their homes rather than sell due to the reputation the area had developed, he said.

On Sunday, a neighbour went to her under-repair property to find the security fences cut and used condoms throughout the section, Bonis said. 

The situation had improved since last year, when the collective and police urged sex workers to return to the central city.

However, it was no longer the ''quiet residential street'' it was before the February 2011 quake, Bonis said. 

''It's not a great place to bring up kids. It shouldn't be happening. If this was Fendalton or Merivale, it would have been sorted in a day.

''There is a lack of leadership. Everyone appears to say it's too hard.''

Cotter, who represents the Shirley-Papanui ward, said developing solutions had taken longer than hoped.

The council and the collective were working on an accord, where street workers would agree to ''temper'' their behaviour in return for the provision of temporary facilities, including port-a-loos, a needle receptacle, security cameras and lighting.

Opposition from residents had prevented it getting off the ground, Cotter said.

''We haven't even had the chance to try it out because no-one wants a port-a-loo near their house - and I don't blame them for that,'' she said.

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The public meeting, set for August 11, was a chance for residents in all affected areas, not just north Manchester St, to offer possible solutions, she said.

A permanent solution, including a ''designated area where they can solicit on the streets'', would take longer and may need to involve the Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera), she said. 

That location would need to be somewhere prostitutes wanted to work.

Cera chief executive Roger Sutton said it was not a Crown issue.

''This is a local government issue for Christchurch City Council to deal with through the making of its bylaws,'' he said. 

Detective Sergeant Jason Stewart said police were aware of the ''uplift'' in issues.

''We will be directing patrols to the area to gauge the extent of the problem,'' he said. 

Last year, a woman clashed with a prostitute she found having intercourse on her section. She was investigated for assault, but not charged.

- The Press

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