Tauranga City Council repeals ban on rough sleeping and begging

Tauranga's Mayor says the city's begging ban - now revoked - should never have been introduced in the first place. 

A council bylaw stopped rough sleepers from staying within five metres from the city centre. But that bylaw was revoked this week, less than a year after the previous council established it. 

Tauranga Mayor Tenby Powell says the bylaw had no legal standing and it's time to get cracking on an alternative.

"This is a bylaw that was passed that would not be able to be defended in a court of law," he told Newshub.

Powell is launching a task force on homelessness as an alternative to the begging ban.

He told Newshub he wants more council workers on the street to help bring homelessness to an end.

"It is really important that we have people who are trained and who are engaged in the city, and who can address minor issues as they come."

In November, council policy committee chair Steve Morris called the bylaw "immoral".

"The effect of having a bylaw punishing rough sleeping when you have a housing shortage is fundamentally immoral, is what some members were of the view of," he told Newshub.

The bylaw was passed in March last year under then-Mayor Greg Brownless and caused huge controversy. Brownless at the time said it was needed to stop "gangs" of "aggressive beggars".

Housing advocate Sharon Loibl told Newshub at the time it was "throwing a blanket" over the problem rather than solving it.