Facing what they claim is spiralling anti-social behaviour, Oxford Street businesses have drafted a strongly worded pamphlet that they plan to hand to beggars and troublemakers unless the City and local police do more to tackle the issue.
But local welfare groups have warned the plan is too simplistic and could compound the problem.
Local retailers group Darlinghurst Business Partnership has drafted the Pleasant Pavements Project flyer in a bid to make the strip more customer-friendly.
Local business has pledged to make the new Oxford Street pavements as PLEASANT as possible, part of the pamphlet reads.
Did you realise asking people for money makes it UNPLEASANT? That’s what our customers tell us all the time.
We’re sorry you’re down on your luck -“ but did you know there’s NO REASON for you to damage our businesses and make the street UNPLEASANT?
The pamphlet lists contact numbers for local charities, Centrelink and the Surry Hills police.
Retailers had witnessed an increase in violent behaviour, including people snatching wine bottles from outdoor diners, robberies and fighting, Darlinghurst Business Partnership chair Phil Wharton said.
He told Sydney Star Observer group members would hand out the flyers if council and the police didn’t do more to deal with anti-social behaviour on Oxford Street.
We’re hoping that by causing a bit of a stir, we’ll force the council to act, Wharton said.
What we’re proposing is that the businesses will take it upon themselves to look after the patch outside their front door and their block, he said.
Darlinghurst Business Partnership also wanted City rangers to take on troublemakers, he said.
A spokesperson from the city of Sydney rejected claims council was not dealing adequately with social problems. It had an extensive outreach service that addressed homelessness and associated issues.
The City also launched a new Oxford Street safety campaign with ACON last month.
The spokesperson told the Star council did not support the Pleasant Pavements Project.
If they’re going to be lodging a request for funding [for the pamphlets] with us, that’s something we will look at when it arrives, the spokesperson said.
Wharton said the pamphlets would not target long-term homeless people. He said local businesses gave these people food, and blankets in winter.
He admitted the flyers might be seen as too confrontational, but said nothing was happening so it’s up to us to get the ball rolling.
But Captain Paul Moulds, director of The Salvation Army’s Oasis youth support service in Surry Hills, said the pamphlet plan was fairly na?.
I understand the sentiment behind it but I think it’s a fairly na? view of why people are on the streets doing what they’re doing, he told the Star.
Most of the people who would be causing the problems, I know from our own service, are people with really complex problems.
Those sorts of issues aren’t going to easily be dealt with by handing someone a piece of paper.
Captain Moulds said retailers risked exacerbating social problems if they went ahead with the flyers plan.
-˜I don’t think [people on the street] will understand that this is an attempt to help them. I think they’ll see it as -˜you’re pushing me away’.
If they receive it like that -¦ it could just make them more upset, angry.
Moulds said it would be better for business owners to link people up with individual outreach workers.
A spokesperson for Wesley Mission, which runs the Edward Eager Lodge homeless service at Taylor Square, said the anti-social behaviour seen on Oxford Street was a symptom of broader community problems.