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Councils meet over street prostitution

An Auckland Council official is visiting Christchurch to discuss plans for a new law to combat street prostitution.

A representative from Auckland's Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board will today meet Christchurch council officials and discuss the Manukau City Council (Regulation of Prostitution in Specified Places) Bill.

The bill, which is before a parliamentary select committee, seeks to give local authorities greater control over where prostitutes can operate if they are not in a brothel.

The meeting between representatives from the two councils is part of plans to support the bill and suggest that it be made effective nationwide.

Otara-Papatoetoe Local Board chairman John McCracken said Papatoetoe residents had fought for several years to limit the areas where street prostitutes worked after seeing them perform their services in daylight and having to clean up excrement and used condoms.

McCracken said the board had found a kindred community in Christchurch, where 14 prostitution-related arrests were made last weekend after a string of complaints to police.

"For people that aren't affected by this sort of behaviour, it doesn't sort of rate as a concern. To have another community experiencing exactly the same issues is a huge help to us to show that this is a real problem."

He said the councils did not want a blanket ban on prostitution, but wanted to limit their activities to areas where they would not affect residents.

McCracken said the councils would lobby MPs from both cities to try to find someone to champion the bill.

Christchurch City Council regulation and democracy services general manager Peter Mitchell said the councils would discuss a formal visit from an Auckland delegation after the meeting, as well as making a submission to the select committee.

In December, the council decided to write to Auckland Mayor Len Brown and the Government to indicate its support for the intent of the Auckland Council's bill.

Cr Aaron Keown said Christchurch wanted to support the bill to increase its chances of being expanded nationwide.

"To get something through, you need to show there is great need for it. You need all the affected areas working together," he said.

Mayor Bob Parker said the bill would help address prostitution-related issues that had come up since the earthquakes.

"We don't have the powers to make changes. We need them, and this will help," he said.

The bill has proven contentious with the Prostitutes' Collective and its supporters, who claim it will marginalise sex workers who are trying to make a living.

tvnz.co.nz/national-news/councils-meet-over-street-prostitution-4692701

 2012-01-20

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