Security guards may be employed to patrol the bus stop area outside Tauranga Art Gallery, Tauranga City Council decided today.
The decision comes after concerns were raised about the number of violence related incidents outside the gallery on Willow Street.
Councillors today voted to pass a “more fluid and flexible” version of what councillor Tony Christiansen originally proposed.
Tony originally stated council should pay for a security guard to watch the bus stop, which has been a constant source of trouble over recent months.
“I think it’s about time we did something,” says Tony.
Realising the motion will prevent council accepting offers of free volunteer help from organisations like Maori Wardens, who had two representatives at the meeting, the motion was amended to allow volunteers to assist the security guard.
The other option of free assistance is uncertain, but council said it will discuss with police the idea of moving the police community constable’s office to the vacant cafe on the ground floor opposite the bus stop.
Even the assistance of the wardens is not going to be the complete answer because they cannot police the bus stop for the entire week, says councillor Terry Molloy.
He says the reported troubles are probably only the tip of the iceberg. People are intimidated, and some cross the road to avoid walking past the bus stop.
He says it affects the city council’s shop front, the i-Site, and the library.
Tony says even with volunteer assistance paid security will be required because they will have the mandate to police the situation.
The first amendment carried, and councillor Larry Baldock wanted to introduce a three month time limit to see if it works or not. Councillor David Stewart supported its flexibility.
When chairman Bill Faulkner questioned the funding option which Tony moved that the council should pay for, Tony says the security guard is to protect ratepayers.
“It’s to protect people’s rights by ensuring their right to walk down the street and catch a bus.”
He didn’t support the amendment, which was carried – as was the motion that a security guard may be hired to patrol the bus stop between 3pm and 5.30pm as required. It will begin as soon as practicable and be funded from current budgets while alternative partnership funding is explored.
Councillor Murray Guy suggested the council seek funding from the bus operator - the Bay of Plenty Regional Council.