Thursday, December 13, 2012

Would you want your rates spent on this?

The Palmerston North City Council is running a campaign to persuade those approached by beggars to consider giving to a charity rather than to the beggar.

Give Wisely – Pedestrians encouraged to give to charities not beggars

A campaign aimed at encouraging pedestrians to give to charities that look after beggars as opposed to giving money directly to beggars is being undertaken by the Palmerston North Safety Advisory Board and Palmerston North City Council.

The campaign is called “Give Wisely” and has a number of aims:

· Encouraging beggars to make positive choices.
· Educating pedestrians as to how they can best help beggars.
· Creating a more vibrant Broadway for pedestrians to enjoy.

Begging occurs in every metropolitan city in New Zealand and from time to time causes issues for both pedestrians and retailers. Begging is not illegal in New Zealand and Palmerston North City does not have an anti-begging bylaw. Regulatory solutions have not worked in other centres and hence a more collaborative community orientated approach has been taken. 

Community development officer Maria Prangnell says Palmerston North is lucky to have so many social services that are able to help by providing support from accommodation and food to psychological needs. “We, along with other agencies, work closely with beggars to ensure they have access to benefits, housing and health services.”

“Giving to those in need is something that should be encouraged especially when it’s to charities that offer a hand up to those on the bottom rung of society.”

Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin says while the campaign will not solve the issue of begging it will help draw attention to the issue. Which he says from time to time leads to those who participate in aggressive forms of begging being arrested. "The city has about ten regular beggars who tend to position themselves in key locations along Broadway Avenue but from time to time haunt other parts of the CBD".

The campaign will run over the summer months. Retailers will be asked to display posters in windows and flyers will be handed out to pedestrians asking them to give to the charities that offer a hand up.

Senior Sergeant Brett Calkin say aggressive forms of begging are not tolerated and anyone who feels intimidated should call the police immediately.

It amuses me that the council (which does worse than beg; it steals your money) then turns around and tells you how to spend the rest. Or perhaps I should view this initiative as an innovative way to deal with a nuisance rather than legislation.

If it works....

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