Nelson bans sleeping rough

Nelson. Photo credit: Getty

A controversial by-law banning Nelson's homeless from sleeping in the CBD comes into force on Monday.

It outlaws rough sleeping overnight on footpaths and roads, but Mayor Rachel Reese says it's not an attack on the poor.

"There is no intention at all to criminalise people who are homeless - in fact, it's the complete opposite of that. This is about actually getting social services to people who are in need."

The law was passed after complaints about long-time Trafalgar St occupier, Lewis Stanton. Residents last year protested against his continued presence in the South Island town.

The demonstration turned violent when Mr Stanton clashed with protest organiser Ru Dawson.

Ms Reese says the community is backing the by-law, despite the vast majority of public submissions opposing it.

"The by-law involves more than just issues of homelessness - it does involve ensuring the trading zones…. [are] kept clear so people can actually get on with running their businesses."

Mr Stanton told local paper Nelson Weekly he has no plans of moving.

"Even if the police get involved there is such thing as a process… When is the system going to solve the problem?"

The by-law passed 11-1. Sole opponent, Councillor Kate Fulton, said the by-law was inconsistent with the Bill of Rights.

"I understand that we are trying to meet the needs of all people living in our society, but I think that it's just a step too far."